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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Callan S. on May 03, 2010, 03:29:32 PM



Title: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 03, 2010, 03:29:32 PM
Fa wut uts worf

Couple of requirements for participating in this thread - you have to be able to humour the idea, if not actually believe, that something that's near and dear to you could possibly be bollocks. Also you have to humour the idea, if not actually believe, that there may be enough information here to understand and if you don't get it it is your own understanding that has failed. (or maybe there isn't enough information, who knows - but you need to be able to consider both possibilities, that there is enough info and you don't get it, and that there isn't enough info, not just the one possibility that sets you up to be right). I'll moderate that and that's not to say I know, like some omnicient god, whether you think you could not possibly be wrong. Otherwise I'd be doing the very same thing. No, I'll just be working from an estimate that could be wrong, yet I'll still enforce that moderation.

Also I'm not saying 'this works and this is how it works'. 'if you have height advantage' is rather bizarre wording and I'm describing one way of making sense of it in practical terms. It's the same as if the rule were worded 'Light some joss sticks and commune with great god Odin to see if you get +2 to hit'. One practical responce to such weird wording is 'Oh, someone just decides if you get +2. And we light some joss sticks...for some reason'.

Also this may be a huge non event. And I'm rather hoping it will be a non event. I actually asked my woman 'If you had a rule that said if you have height advantage, you get +2 to hit, it wouldn't be like consulting a real life roulette wheel, right? Someone would just be deciding whether you get the +2" and she said "Yeah". That simple. No big discussion. I would have thought it'd be that cut and dried with gamers and indeed I have thought that and would prefer to keep that assumption.

In terms of AP examples: This is a bit like giving examples of breathing at the gaming table - uh, which one do you give that is any more an example than any other time? Also the mechanism behind 'height advantage' is in tons of other places in traditional designs and also in newer ones - this isn't discussing just height advantage. Skill roll bonuses, or whether you can roll a skill at all - same issue. Whether you have 'line of sight' to 'shoot someone' - same issue. How many free attacks you get on an enemy that has decided to run - same issue. Man, that was always a joyous moment in gaming at our table, the free attacks - all take, no give! One time a recurring villain was flying away in a session of the underground RPG - that one parting shot Matt got to do, with the huge exploding dice effect - BOOM! But still the same basic type of issue. Also, whether you can 'buy' object X from 'a shop', same issue. It just shows up all over the place! Also getting back specifically to 'height advantage' in one AP at the table the verbal descriptions had gotten to the point where I'm describing my cleric 'on the table'. Notice how I'm being pedantic in describing the play account, as in what actually happened? Just people talking and descriptions. Sound waves. Rather than writing here 'my cleric was totally on the table, mace in hand, standing over this beast!'. Because that isn't an actual play acount, because it doesn't describe anything that actually existed or occured at the table. Anyway, I could see the GM chewing the words over at the time - I think maybe he didn't like the idea of a heavily armoured cleric on a wooden table. Anyway, in the end HE gave me the +2 (or is it +1 in D&D? I forget?). HE gave it to me, not some 'height advantage'. Indeed, perhaps we didn't even follow the rules, since they say if you have 'height advantage' you get it, they don't say if the GM decides it. If they said great lord Odin decides it and instead the GM decided it, that wouldn't be following the rules either, eh? Even though that Odin rule example is patently insane.

Also I think just looking at single, particular individual instances of actual play in graven detail will be distracting - it's like a D20. Sure it may seem crazy random on each individual roll, but if you look at the bigger picture by rolling it dozens of times, you see an average behaviour emerge. If you fix onto just one play account, it'll be ignoring the overall average behaviour. But I'll grant, how can one describe dozens and dozens of play sessions quickly? Does anyone have some ideas to pitch on that? Anyway, ask for more details, but I'll try to be drawing from a pattern in a bank of accounts rather than fixing onto just one AP account.

Ok, partial cut and paste time!

If you had a real life roulette table, and had a rule
"If the ball ends up in a slot marked six, the result is six"

And if you had a rule
"If your character has the higher position, the result is you get +2 to your attack roll"

What is the average pattern of thought on this, at the forge, for instance? Now remember the D20, you might think everyone thinks different thoughts all over a spectrum - but do they, or does it all average out? And what is the average, if so?

After writing a long draft I realise there is nothing to argue as no evidence is being given for the latter, in terms of proving to any degree there's an actual thing to consult. I've only seen assertion and sole onus on the other guy to disprove it (and the falacious idea that if others can't disprove it, it's proved). There's no actual evidence/meat to engage at all.

To me, the latter is exactly the same as this
“If Harvey, the invisible six foot rabbit next to the GM, gives it the nod, you get +2 to your attack roll.”

In that it refers to a made up thing as if it's real and determines the +2 - both Harvey and "checking if there's height advantage" (in a literal sense) are both the same to me.

And I'm starting to wonder if actually, all this time, the vast bulk of people at the forge treat the height advantage (and similar 'mechanics') as an actual thing you can consult, like you can consult the real life roulette table.

If this is an accepted and (even informally) taught fundimental at the forge all this time...well, fuck. I would say it's a fundamental, and as you can tell I see measure it as flawed, so that flaw would have permeated though everything to some degree.

But for the question never mind whether I think it's flawed. Are the roulette wheel and height advantage being treated as two things that can be consulted for a result by most people at the forge?

I'm kind of stuck at asking because it's both fundamental and inarguable. It's just how a forum or whatever teaching/work place operates from, or doesn't. It's a bit like asking if you can have pictures in your posts, in that way.

Just as a quick side note for comparison, here's something that I think, at a measurable level, does work: Someone is the backstop – hopefully declared by the rules. This person listens to everyone else, and he allows himself to be moved somewhat by their ideas. A vague approximation of everyone elses ideas collect in his head, then he looks at them with his own idea of the words ‘height advantage’ in mind and chooses whether you get +2 to hit. Maybe we talk as if were climbing onto the table and crap, but that’s no more happening than when we dream at night were climbing onto a super model a table, it’s happening. What’s really going on is our own mind tumbling through a lot of ideas.

Fa wut uts worf


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 03, 2010, 05:16:15 PM
A thought experiment.

In front of us, there's a printout of Super Mario Bros in machine code.

You play Mario. You tell me what Mario is doing. You verbalize your pad input. You can do anything, as long as its within these bounds.

I read the code and run it in my head. I tell you where you are and what surrounds you. I accept your declarations and tell you what happens. I'm trying my best to process your input and offer you precise output. I'm very determined to remain faithful to the code. For the next few hours, I'm your hardware.

Note that there is no negotiation involved. We clarify our statements when needed, though. Other than that, our agreement to everything we say is automatic and total. Technically, the only moment when we have to reach an agreement is when we choose to play this game. I'd say this doesn't constitute a part of actual play; it occurs before we even start playing and it's the most basic requirement for us to commence. I'd say it occurs out of game, as it's not more a part of gameplay than blowing into the cartridge before inserting it into the console.

1. Ideal play. I'm processing your input through the code perfectly, as actual NES would. (How is that different from actual NES gameplay, other than medium and controls?)

2. Less than ideal play. I'm only human, so sometimes I'm making mistakes reading or applying the code, failing to process your input correctly. Say, you you walk into a monster, but I forget to apply collision detection, and you pass by harmlessly. We generally notice that eventually, but never fast enough to apply corrections immediately. Still, we assume that's what happens and move on.

3. As above, only this time, none of us notices the mistake. We move on as if the code was applied correctly all the time.

4. I'm applying the code selectively. Sometimes, I'll let you walk through a wall, sometimes there's a monster when it normally shouldn't, sometimes your jump will take you farther than it would. I'm doing this consciously, voluntarily and on my whim. Or perhaps I'm just being lazy?

Consider the degree of decision making in each of the above points. In terms of referring to platforms, walls and monsters, are there differences?

So, I believe height advantage and its equivalents are, essentially, a pieces of data to process. They are quite concrete and can be referred to in the same way one could refer to the machine code representation of platforms, walls and monsters in the above thought experiment. I think the core of this issue is not whether they are tangible enough to be referred to as actual things, but where they come from and how they are processed.

Also, I believe your questions and observations are on the machine code level, when most of the current theory and discussion is primarily concerned with interface, input/output and, especially, players.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Roger on May 03, 2010, 07:51:12 PM
I think it has the potential to be a confusing thing.  I mean, sure, you're saying "Height advantage and line-of-sight obviously come out of the SIS; they don't come out of the Real World."

And I look at that and say, "What are you talking about?  I've got the miniatures right there on the table in front of me.  I'm staring right at them with my own eyes.  Of course I can tell which miniature is taller, or higher.  Of course I can tell who has line of sight -- look, I'll dig out my laser pointer and we'll double-check it just to be sure.  There's no interaction with the SIS here."

We both have the potential to be completely correct in our own contexts.  What's worse is that we could be talking about the exact same published set of rules.  So there's the potential for confusion.

In terms of how that shakes out in Actual Play, I think the interesting parts come when there's a contradiction between the two.  I've seen it resolved both ways.  Sometimes everyone agrees and insists that whatever's on the the board is on the board -- if that miniature is a goblin with a crossbow and a dagger, then that's what's there in the SIS.  Sometimes everyone agrees and insists on the opposite conclusion -- it doesn't matter that all those zombies are Gummi Bears -- they're zombies, dang it.


Cheers,
Roger


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 03, 2010, 09:01:16 PM
I'm pausing to allow responces to occur, but I'll add a correction
I mean, sure, you're saying "Height advantage and line-of-sight obviously come out of the SIS; they don't come out of the Real World.
Roger, I'm describing the complete opposite. There is/can be a decision by a real world person on +2, there is no SIS that physically exists for anything to come out of, and indeed +2 can't even come out of a singular IS even (unless the person somehow has lost their own will anything they imagine is what they say). I think you should read through again.

Otherwise I'm pausing to allow responce


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christian on May 03, 2010, 10:51:23 PM
Callan, you're my man ;)

This is one of my pet peeves !
Linked to another very similar : why fudge that your character is, well let's say... 50 meters far, so that makes, let's see... -2 to shoot. This is stoopid ! Why not give the malus in the first place ? Why convert ? Why not give the malus first considering what's apropriate (say dramatically) and THEN decide what distance it represents ?

I'm currently working on a design, and here is how I "solved" this annoying (to me) peculiarity :
No bonus, no malus, except when the GM or the players pays some resource, to modify the test with a malus or a bonus. And then you narrate why it is so. Done.

The thing is giving bonus/malus is always (in trad rpg) GM fiat. So instead of that, you have to make it a part of an economy. It solves two things : the fudge aspect (why give the bonus now ? why this one ? why not at every occurence ?) and the drama aspect : if your economy is linked to your dramatic progression, then what happens "on screen" will rise accordingly (if you choose so in your design).
In a boardgame, you never have a bonus "just because", you have to actually work on it ! Same here.

What do you say ?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: lumpley on May 04, 2010, 04:01:31 AM
Callan, I'm with the woman in your example: yeah, someone decides. The DM in your game, with the cleric standing on the table? He decided.

I don't represent the Forge in any strong way, but I can tell you my experience: I've never seen, here or anywhere, any assertion from anyone that your cleric or the table he's standing on are real.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Jim D. on May 04, 2010, 06:23:01 AM
I confess I'm not entirely sure where the idea came from that on some philosophical level, your cleric and the table are real and what is known about their positions is an unarguable fact.  That said, I do agree with the notions discussed here:

* Say you are playing D&D with miniatures.  The DM has specified a certain square as a climbable table.  Your cleric stands on the table.  Height advantage, therefore +2.

* Now say you're playing the same game, without the mat and miniatures, verbally declaring actions in the old RPG standard way.
You:  "There are tables in the room, right?"
DM:  "Yes."
You:  "I'd like to climb on top of one and secure a height advantage."
DM:  "Sure, you can get there in a single move action if you want."
You:  "Very well, I'll do that.  With my newfound height advantage, I'll strike at the orc in front of me."
DM:  "Go ahead and roll, and add +2 for the table."

You've mutually agreed upon the presence of the table, its benefit, and so it is now an inarguable part of the fiction until circumstances change.  (Say, the table breaks under your weight.  :P)

If we're coming at this from the angle of credibility (and forgive me if I'm misusing the term), I don't really see a difference here.  In the former case, the DM laid out the room in advance, put the tables down, and it's an implicit part of the rules that you can stand on the table and secure the height advantage unless the DM tells you otherwise for whatever reason.  In the latter case, the realization of the table and its use came to fruition as part of a discussion with the DM, but the result is the same.  Your agreed-upon framework for the game determined the existence of the table and its benefits.  The only "set in stone" portion of this whole thing is the rule in the D&D book that states height advantage => +2.  It's then up to the players to determine that existence and who has the credibility to firmly establish that (the GM, narrator, whatever).

The rule can be looked up, its applicability is determined by whoever's in charge, but I think it only becomes real and "look-upable", if you'll pardon the turn of phrase, when the players agree it's there and useful.  Until then it's nebulous, a concept.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 06:27:50 AM
Of the games I've played and loved playing in the last ten years:

Sorcerer has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)
In a Wicked Age... has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)
Primetime Adventures has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)
HeroQuest has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)
Pendragon does have rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)

So, sometimes the point you are bringing up might be utterly moot depending on the particular RPG being played.

In the case of Pendragon, I would say that it is the accretion of fictional detail added through moment-by-moment of play that determines if any high ground is available. As a GM, if it seems like there's some high ground available and a Player wants to claim it in some clever way or with some bit of intriguing description, I give the bonus. I'm easy that way. I like it when my players describe things; it makes me happy and is why I play these games. If the Player of a knight in Pendragon says, "My guy runs up the steps of the scaffold for higher ground," I say, "Awesome. Plus 5 bonus for your attack next round on the villains in the courtyard."

Like Vincent I'll assure you, as I've done in the past, that I do not believe anything "real" is happening to make a basis for the bonus. And I've never seen anyone at the Forge make such a claim either.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Caldis on May 04, 2010, 07:32:44 AM
I think if you are focusing on the real world interaction of a player and GM then you are looking at the least interesting part of rpg's.  It's what they imagine together that is interesting and what makes the most solid basis for play to continue.  It's not that anything real is going on it's that together we are imagining something and the better we are able share the imagined events the more solid the play feels.

Take your example of the bonus for height advantage, it is ultimately decided on by the gm but how does he decide to give it out?  If he's not basing it on what's happening in the SIS then what does he decide it on, who he likes best?  What color shirt someone is wearing?  It's entirely arbitrary.  It's only if we agree in our shared imagination that this character was here and that character was there and that gives this character an advantage do we have anything to base the decision on.  There's still a lot to argue there but it is a basis.

Christian said you can turn it into a resource and force the player to pay for it but if all it becomes is an economical transaction it ends up being pretty weak sauce, you need to tie it back to the SIS for it to have any impact.  i.e  "I pay one opportunity point to climb to the high ground and get the bonus to hit for heigh advantage" is at least a little bit better than just paying points and not giving any imaginary reason for it.



Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Roger on May 04, 2010, 07:44:25 AM
there is no SIS that physically exists for anything to come out of

Well, yeah -- I know SISs don't physically exist, by definition.  Let me try this again.

Here's some pseudo-AP from Spirit of the Century, with player P and GM.

P:  I'm totally attacking the ninja pirate.  I roll... +3, and my skill with Stabbing Bad Guys is +2, so I have a +5.
GM:  Ohhh, so close, but not good enough.
P:  Fine; I have the aspect "Always takes the High Ground", so here's my Fate Point, take it away; now I have a +7.  Is THAT enough?
GM:  Yep, sure is.  You run the ninja pirate through.

Is there really that much difference here between the +3 from the dice sitting on the table and the +2 from the High Ground?  I'm inclined to describe them as being, well, not exactly alike, but more similar than not.

We can approach it even closer if we explicitly try for it.  I can imagine a game in which the character actions are all cards to be played, and one of the cards is "Take the High Ground:  Play this card to receive a +2 to your next attack roll."  In that sort of situation, anyone walking by can look at the table, see a +3 on the dice and a card with +2 beside them, sitting right there on the real world table, and I don't think there's much difference.

If I were writing up that particular exchange for Actual Play, I'd be inclined to describe it as "Then my guy Took the High Ground and subsequently stabbed the ninja pirate."  I don't know if we're losing anything by not writing that as "Then I played the Take the High Ground card, followed by a Stab to the Groin card, at which point the GM removed the Ninja Pirate opponent token from the playing surface."  But maybe we are.

Of course, some games don't have rules like that.  Which is fine.  In another game, under different circumstances, sure, that +2 from High Ground might just come out of GM whim.  But without that additional context, I think we have no basis for deciding whether "If your character has the higher position, the result is you get +2 to your attack roll" is like or unlike "If the ball ends up in a slot marked six, the result is six".

As I'm thinking this over, I'm reminded more and more of "Say Yes, or Roll Dice."  I don't think there's widespread confusion between what's happening when the gm Says Yes, and what's happening when the gm Rolls Dice.

I think what would help me most, Callan, is a specific example from an Actual Play post of someone labouring under this delusion.  At the moment it feels a bit like we're gathering around to complain about the hypothetical behaviours of hypothetical people, which seems a bit counter-productive.


Cheers,
Roger


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 04, 2010, 07:49:01 AM
Christian,

Quote
Linked to another very similar : why fudge that your character is, well let's say... 50 meters far, so that makes, let's see... -2 to shoot. This is stoopid ! Why not give the malus in the first place ? Why convert ? Why not give the malus first considering what's apropriate (say dramatically) and THEN decide what distance it represents ?

Because the moment you establish the exact distance, you can start applying movement rules. From then on, you and your target can only move that many meters per turn. Perhaps he's going to close in on you and bind you in melee before you take him down, or perhaps he will move away and next turn it's -5 to shoot. Either way, you have concrete data to work with and concrete rules to process that with, and it's all measurable. I can't decide that it's dramatically appropriate that he just closes in and cuts your head, and then decide what distance and to hit advantage and damage factors it all represented. Or, I can, but that's when I stop playing the game as is and engage in storyteller wank instead.

My pet peeve is why it's 50 meters and not 40, 90 or 53. Somebody has to set initial circumstances somehow. For example, in D&D 3.x the initial distance depends on terrain. But then, why it's dense forest and not light forest or open ground?

Christopher,

Quote from: Callan S.
In terms of AP examples: This is a bit like giving examples of breathing at the gaming table - uh, which one do you give that is any more an example than any other time? Also the mechanism behind 'height advantage' is in tons of other places in traditional designs and also in newer ones - this isn't discussing just height advantage. Skill roll bonuses, or whether you can roll a skill at all - same issue. Whether you have 'line of sight' to 'shoot someone' - same issue. How many free attacks you get on an enemy that has decided to run - same issue.

Now:

Quote
In a Wicked Age... has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)

When your character is acting with love, roll with Love.

Quote
Primetime Adventures has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)

Page 61 (second edition).

Quote
HeroQuest has no rules of the kind you are referring to for (with "height advantage" being the example)

+3 to +6 when your ability is more specific.
-3 per additional opponent in extended contests.

(Second edition, and some of those modifiers where so fiatish that they really got on my nerves in play. Either way, I know my height advantage when I see it.)


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 08:03:13 AM
Hi Filip,

I am well aware of the rules you are citing.

Certainly we can all agree that, for example, whether nor not a character is acting "With Love" is absolutely arbitrary.  We are no longer concerned, at all, whether something is really happening.

I yield on the number of opponents in HeroQuest. I forgot about that one!

I consider the rest a completely separate issue than the one Calan is bringing up. Especially as he is grounding his discussion in matters of whether there are physical details that are somehow "real."


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 08:15:46 AM
I should add that I consider the "height bonus" arbitrary as well.

I tend to prefer games these days where the mechanics deal with matters where the arbitrariness is explicit ("With Love") rather than bonus or shifts in odds pretend they're based on "real world" mechanical matters like jumping on a table.

I like them because they serve as brainstorming prods for the players. They work well. They inspire people to come up with bits of fiction that in turn inspire new bits of fiction.

Of course someone decides. Someone judges. This is a given.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 04, 2010, 08:32:19 AM
Christopher,

Quote
I consider the rest a completely separate issue than the one Calan is bringing up.

Notice that this is specifically the issue Callan is bringing up. It's explicitly spelled out in the opening post, in the quoted part.

I bet it's in Sorcerer as well in some form. Even the most boardgamey titles that I know have it somewhere.

I don't know if it's a given that someone decides, though. For example, nobody decides that the monster kills me when I play Super Mario Bros, and I can't argue with my computer about that and negotiate an agreement. I'm not sure about board games, though.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 08:37:29 AM
Filip,

All of Calan's examples in the quote you bring up still deal with the details of physical space. If I read that too narrowly, I was wrong.

None the less, the key thing here is this:

So far everyone here is agreeing with Calan on this point: Someone decides about these modifiers -- in a tabletop RPG.

If you want to start bringing up video games, that's your call.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 04, 2010, 08:52:43 AM
Well, I don't know what a tabletop RPG is, I'm afraid (and I'm pretty sure it would be very difficult for most people at this site to agree on a single definition that wouldn't be grounded exclusively in the common fan and product base). I can discuss games I know and play, and you refer to some.

Either way, consider Directly, Covertly and with Violence. Those often apply to the details of physical actions, if not to physical space directly. I don't think there's a different fundamental mechanism behind them than behind with Love.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 08:59:21 AM
Filip,

If you look at the second post I made in reply to you, you'll notice that I'm granting that they all these things are, ultimately modifiers decided by someone.

I get the feeling you're spoiling for an argument with me - but we're agreeing!

My guess is that how the modifiers are decided is too arbitrary for some (you and Calan, I'm guessing), while for others (me, for example) feeling my way through the judgments involved socially is part of the fun of the game.

I truly believe that this is what is at stake here. For some folks the fact that there's no hard and fast mechanistic determination of modifiers means it's just crazy-land. For others, the use of creative decisions based on aesthetic judgment (how I play) not based on "how things would really be" is why I play.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 04, 2010, 09:16:30 AM
Essentially, yes, I think the core of the issue is how those things are processed.

I'm still not sure whether they always have to be decided by someone. SMB aside, in D&D we don't decide how far from each other combatants stand. It's on the battle grid, we measure it, not decide. Even when we fail to measure this accurately, we still don't decide. At most, we could decide that despite our measurements, there is no range penalty involved, for reasons. When the rule says "-2 to hit when the opponent is more than 30 feet away", that's a rough equivalent of deciding to smash the pad with a hammer in SMB, I'd say, or tossing the cartridge out the window.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: contracycle on May 04, 2010, 09:21:40 AM
We're walking down the road, and we see a car headoing towards a junction.  I say to you, "I bet you ten bucks that car will turn left".  We watch, the car turns right.

You can now demand ten bucks from me.  Nothing "real" happened.  All just gums flapping, all just words.  And yet the debt is real, the ability to demand it is real, because we have memories, and comprehension, and we both know the bet was offered and accepted.

Once upon a time you said "you can get a +2 bonus for having a height advantage".  You also accepted it when I said "I back up the stairs".  I can now claim that +2 bonus on the basis of prior agreement, just like the bet.  Those rules were offered and accepted.  The prevoius statements of positioning were offered and accepted.  That is the agreement between us, and I'm entitled to invoke it.

The IS is not "real", but the statements people make and the things they agree to are.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 04, 2010, 09:22:38 AM
Right. Absolutely. I was thinking specifically of 4e on this point this morning, since it plays to the pleasure of this kind of play so strongly.

That said, there are other kinds of pleasures. For some people, saying or hearing why or how an action is "For Love" is the pleasure. It isn't a problem to be dodged. It is the point of play. It is, as they say, a feature -- not a bug.

But I can absolutely see how it might be a bug for many people!


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Caldis on May 04, 2010, 09:28:01 AM
I'm still not sure whether they always have to be decided by someone. SMB aside, in D&D we don't decide how far from each other combatants stand. It's on the battle grid, we measure it, not decide.

It's not quite that simple.  Someone has to place the figures on the battle grid and move figures on or off of it so in the end someone is always deciding.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Motipha on May 04, 2010, 11:19:40 AM
....yeah, I don't think there's really a question that in the end, everything is based on decisions made by people.  To make the leap that the Imaginative Space exists, for real, somewhere... wooo, that's quite a thing.

Looking at it this way, one could say that the SIS is a history and framework of previously made, accepted, and binding decisions upon which newer decisions will be based and accepted.  Especially when you split up the authority of who can offer up a decision or make it (Bob makes decisions for these characters, Angela for my archnemesis, and Wilbur for all rats everywhere) there has to be a context for those decisions, some way to make those decisions work together cohesively.

 In this way, we can return to the image of the cleric, the bar, and the table.  If the SIS hasn't said anything about the existence of or the nature of the table, then now is when someone(s) (whoever has the authority) can decide about that nature, and whether it is enough to get the +2 height benefit.  When someone suitably empowered says "no, that table doesn't give height advantage" what is really being said is that the relevant information about that has already been established.

...erm, but yes.  SIS is not real.  At least, not in practical terms.  I reserve the right to indulge in some overly elaborate metaphysical pondering that no one else cares about.



Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 04, 2010, 01:00:06 PM
For purposes of clarity and sanity ...

Person A: "The goblin leaps at you!"

Person B: "I stab it!" (dice go clatter clatter) "15!"

Person A: "You stab it!"

Person B: (makes gross sound effect)

and so on ...

The only definition of SIS that makes any sense to me is the fact that these people are speaking to one another and responding to one another's input as a basis for what they say next, and the topic happens to be fictional, or rather, fictional material in the making.

That's all there is to it. When someone says, "According to the SIS," or "Because of the SIS," or anything like that, all they mean is that the next person to speak is considering what has already been established to be valid creative material to work with.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 04, 2010, 05:46:24 PM
Callan, I'm with the woman in your example: yeah, someone decides. The DM in your game, with the cleric standing on the table? He decided.

I don't represent the Forge in any strong way, but I can tell you my experience: I've never seen, here or anywhere, any assertion from anyone that your cleric or the table he's standing on are real.
Hi Vincent,

Well, in relation to something you've written on your blog
Quote
your tactical advantage depends upon details of your character's immediate circumstances.
Are you writing to other people saying something like "Of course it's not real...but the +2 is determined by the details of the characters immediate circumstances"?

To me, there isn't much more you could do to say they aren't assertions and it's real than what's in the quoted section. If someone did think it all real, what would they say about it? Well, they'd likely say something like "your tactical advantage depends upon details of your character's immediate circumstances." because they genuinely think the +2 is determined by some physically measurable, real, objects.

You sound exactly like if someone did think it all real, yet here we are, you saying no ones said it's real. Where are we on this?


Hi Filip,

This is perhaps a slightly different topic. But although there are a few things I'd examine with you thought experiment, I'll cut to this - machine code does not compute the words 'height advantage'. Go type that into a programming language compiler. It'll either spit out an error or ignore it entirely. Because it is not concrete - it has not been put into concrete numbers. Your idea that you can just be 'hardware' for 'height advantage' is incorrect - because even real hardware cannot be hardware for the words 'height advantage'. If I were to program it, it'd go something like "On collision, if x >= other.x-z bonustohit = 2;'. With Z as the ammount of pixels it has to be higher than the other object. How many pixels? Hardware cannot and does not decide this. Your blurring human artistic choices and pure procedural following into one (perhaps harmful) thing.


Hi Christian,

This is a bit of a different topic, but probably a productive and more fun one. Now if I get you right your saying something like "spend a malus point out of your limited pool, then narrate some fiction to support it if you want". I agree, it's valid - but I think there's even more potential to it...

Okay, think of this, with the very same mechanic - suppose weve all been talking shit. And I have some malus points left over and to me, it sounds like the dudes target is fifty feet out. And let's say my own artistic vision of this fiction were pumping out involves that just having to mean -2 to hit...well, I've got the currency. Bang, your 'too far out, dude! -2 to hit!'. Really, in real life, I'm just spending the malus point. But I'm basing it on fiction - perhaps next time the guy thinks 'hang on, the shit were talking sounds like I'm around 50 feet out and Callan will bust out his malus point (I know he's hording some, the bastard!), so I'll say some stuff that makes it sound like I'm rushing in, see if that works". You try it, and to my artistic vision it sounds like your forty feet "Ohh, close to inaccuracy! Lucky you" so I spend no malus point. Maybe it means the difference between hit and miss. Maybe it changes the whole outcome of the game.

Oh, and let me stress that just because I spent a point like that, no one else has to spend a malus point if spoken descriptions seem to be 50 feet or whatever the hell. Everyone spends points when they decide. However, what you can get is people start to adopt or fall in love with other peoples artistic vision - music bands get this, I bet. Other people might start doing it. OR maybe no one cares about it and...I think, eh, it's not important, I'll let go of it. We gently merge into each others artistic visions, which is really wonderful...as opposed to the often current 'Everyone has same vision or the games fucked cause we don't know what to do next otherwise! And that's a great feature, cause were all forced to envision the same! It's great! Exterminate! Exterminate!'

Okay, bit OTT with the darlek reference, but it seems horrible and artistically damaging to me.

Getting back to the good stuff, currencies of play can be affected - not by an SIS, but by peoples artistic visions. Play can be informed to an extent by peoples fictional visions. But I must also stress, to avoid bad, bad shit, this sort of play doesn't HAVE to be informed by fiction. For this sort of play, play aught to be able to go completely boardgamey without anyone going fucking fruitloops over that. Because artistic visions come when they come, they don't come because the bossy bastard on the other side of the table is telling you RPG's are about fiction and he's not having fun so stop 'roll'playing and get creative now. Boardgamey has to be acceptable otherwise it gets into a species of typhoid mary, not of character depiction, but of world invention and depiction.

Yak, yak, yak. Anyway, I think your one mechanic can be used in two very different ways. But it probably doesn't even matter me telling you - you'd probably find people use it that way to some extent in your playtests. And sometimes they'll put a point in because they want to and then people invent fiction, if they want to, to cover why it's there. Good luck with it! :) Also I really agree on economies - I would actually say the very thing that differentiates your game from others on the market (paid or free) is the nuances of economy in the game. And alot of the traditional RPG's have no real economy at all - that's why they all seem alike after awhile.

And I don't know if Ron is reading this, but if he's reminded of before and after traits - look, see! There doesn't have to be this weird seperation of mechanics - it all can stem from the one mechanic. Indeed I don't know how you can roleplay (without getting a headache) without treating all roleplay mechanics as both things at once!?

I'm posting now cause I'm afraid of losing this post otherwise...


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 04, 2010, 08:03:43 PM
Hi Jim D.,

Quote
and so it is now an inarguable part of the fiction until circumstances change.
Quote
Your agreed-upon framework for the game determined the existence of the table and its benefits.  The only "set in stone" portion of this whole thing is the rule in the D&D book that states height advantage =>  +2.  It's then up to the players to determine that existence and who has the credibility to firmly establish that (the GM, narrator, whatever).
And here we are at 'existance', when I'm assured no one at the forge is saying this exists. No, actually, people saying these 'things' exist is happening - here, for example.

I mean, in the last line of your example, if the GM said 'Nah, no +2. Just roll' am I right that you'd argue NOT based on the idea he promised you +2, but instead you'd argue based on the idea the table exists, right? That it had been 'established'?

It's like me saying I'll pay you for some bread you have, but only if A: You hand me the bread and B: lord Odin gives the nod. You ask if lord Odin is nodding. I say yes.

So you hand me the bread. I give you no money. Then you start arguing lord Odin was nodding. No, he stopped nodding I say. You get angry because I'm cheating or suchlike.

How do you determine cheating on such a matter, when there is no evidence? When it's just something locked away inside someones head?

I mean, in every other boardgame or even sport, there is some physical object you can physically measure to determine a result of cheating or not.

Do you really feel secure enough to call anyone a cheat on the existance of the established table/bonus given? It's a hard question.


Hi Christopher,

Well, the problem issue can be, atleast textually, made absolutely moot in a particular RPG text. You simply have the text refer to what's actually physically present for determinations. Whether your examples don't have anything like height advantage, I don't know. Are you trying to say it's a non issue? Perhaps it is - as I said, I hope it is. But you've sort of fixed soley onto height advantage - I did describe it's kin, like skill use or even buying items. Are you checking for anything else apart from height advantage? I seem to remember some sort of armour element mentioned in a post about sorcerer once. Do you get +2 armour for pot belly stove armour? How is it phrased?

And even then, well, I've always filtered the 'height advantage' rules to something sensible, so even if they are insensibly written, the author might be so used to translating them by habbit (like I am) that he doesn't think to write what he is actually doing. That may be the case with Vincent above as well. Indeed I think it's fairly widely recognised that many designers don't manage to write down what they are actually doing at the table. I think Ron may have noted that once, even. This could be as simple as that...though there's an issue about that I'd raise, if it seems to be the case.


Hi Caldis,
Quote
Take your example of the bonus for height advantage, it is ultimately decided on by the gm but how does he decide to give it out?  If he's not basing it on what's happening in the SIS then what does he decide it on, who he likes best?  What color shirt someone is wearing?  It's entirely arbitrary.  It's only if we agree in our shared imagination that this character was here and that character was there and that gives this character an advantage do we have anything to base the decision on.
Well, again a reference to 'what's happening' when there's nothing existant for something to be happening with.

I'm not sure if even I am being on topic here, but do you think books, like action novels are a series of arbitrary events, because the author has no agreement with you? Because essentially that's absolutely true with any book about 'characters doing stuff' - it is all arbitrary and the author has no agreement with you, I'll totally grant.


Hi Gareth,

Your confusing the issue one step early. Your car and it's position is a physically mesurable object. Switch it to this 'I'll give you ten bucks if your gods dick is longer than my gods dick'.

Show me physical evidence of whether you get ten bucks, without just flapping your gums. :)
Quote
Once upon a time you said "you can get a +2 bonus for having a height advantage".  You also accepted it when I said "I back up the stairs".  I can now claim that +2 bonus on the basis of prior agreement, just like the bet.
What is the rule on who decides whether you get +2? Is it you? If not, your breaking the rules.
"But it's obvious!"
If it's obvious, physically measure it. Now is it like measuring the cars direction or is it like measuring the dicks of gods?

You can't call someone on cheating when it comes to something you can't physically measure - not unless you want to start being a witch hunter.


Hi Timo,
Quote
In this way, we can return to the image of the cleric, the bar, and the table.  If the SIS hasn't said anything about the existence of or the nature of the table, then now is when someone(s) (whoever has the authority) can decide about that nature, and whether it is enough to get the +2 height benefit.  When someone suitably empowered says "no, that table doesn't give height advantage" what is really being said is that the relevant information about that has already been established.
I don't understand - when someone suitably empowered says it doesn't give it, then somehow retroactively the relevant information had already been established? All I can say is no? That'd be someone telling other people what they agreed to, in the past?


Hi again Roger,
Quote
I think what would help me most, Callan, is a specific example from an Actual Play post of someone labouring under this delusion.  At the moment it feels a bit like we're gathering around to complain about the hypothetical behaviours of hypothetical people, which seems a bit counter-productive.
Well, this started with me asking if anyone does this here, not me trying to prove it. I'd rather hope I'm wrong, but what qualifies to me as circumstantial evidence has built up. There are several 'using words that apply to real things' references in just this thread so far. So I'm asking.

And I can't exactly ask people for their delusional AP accounts, cause either they aren't delusional or they don't recognise their own delusion (if they could, it wouldn't be delusional!)

So I ask for AP accounts from all you people - especially when someone at the table was really, really certain X should happen. Especially if there was no rule behind that. Go on, dare you to potentially fall on your swords! :)


Hi Ron,
Quote
The only definition of SIS that makes any sense to me is the fact that these people are speaking to one another and responding to one another's input as a basis for what they say next, and the topic happens to be fictional, or rather, fictional material in the making.
What I'm questioning, basically, is whether their input is being treated as so much a basis for what is said next that taking certain mechanical options is considered by some  participants as actualy wrong and or cheating.

I can't tell if person B takes things said as a fun reference person A might use if they want to (player B leaves that up to A entirely), or if person B takes things said as stone cold binding agreements that he understands the minute details of completely (ie he somehow knows the length of the gods dick, even though someone else invented the god). I don't know from your example whether they are the former or the latter and they just haven't run across something person B is really bloody certain of yet.

Your definition covers both the former and the latter so far. Mixing the two would obscure what I want to discuss. I'd like to get to the point where either A goes "Hey, it's up to the GM whether I get the +2, it sounded like it would to me, but we all imagine in our own ways and clearly aren't always going to match up. And I decided he could call that when I started play!" or A goes "I'm ON the table! It's obvious I get the +2! What are you doing?? *insert some sort of body language inferring cheating here*". Any AP along those lines would rock! Well, in context to this thread, they would rock!

Quote
When someone says, "According to the SIS," or "Because of the SIS," or anything like that
Both the former and the latter can say these same words. What they mean is very different.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: lumpley on May 04, 2010, 09:20:12 PM
Nope! Someone decides. If you think I've ever said otherwise, all I can suggest is that you reconsider and revise your understanding.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: contracycle on May 04, 2010, 10:34:49 PM
Your confusing the issue one step early. Your car and it's position is a physically mesurable object. Switch it to this 'I'll give you ten bucks if your gods dick is longer than my gods dick'.

No, I'm not.

Quote
You can't call someone on cheating when it comes to something you can't physically measure - not unless you want to start being a witch hunter.

I certainly can.  I can bet that someone cannot recite:
Quote
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

... without making an error.  But even this is beside the point.  When the debt is called in, there is at that time, nothing to measure.  All there is is the memory of prior event.  And what we have in the IS is the memory of previous definitive statements.  Exactly the same principle applies.

Quote
What is the rule on who decides whether you get +2? Is it you? If not, your breaking the rules.

Once again, no I'm not.  I'm entitled to invoke a rule, even if it's not technically within my right to decide.  Players in sports can appeal to the referee; the referee's decision may be the one that is final, but that doesn't prevent the players putting their case and even suggesting what the right decision would be.

We agree to treat the IS as if it were real and we can draw conclusions from it as if it were real too.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christian on May 05, 2010, 04:26:00 AM
Callan : yes the economics around bonus / malus leads to interesting play exeriences. What I like is the "no fudge" and the "story pushing" effects.
To precise things a bit, if you're interested, in my game the GM has Threat tokens he spends to give malus, and the players "use" Traits and spends Resolution points. The important thing is that the use of Traits is part of the economy too.
To use your example of the table :
GM : ok, the goblin leaps toward you, this is the conflict, what's your objective ?
Player : I want to get the chest and leave.
GM : the goblin draws a black dagger glowing with red light! (I spend 1 threat token, that's a 1 die malus for you) (the GM could have said "He calls his friends", or "He jumps on the table and attacks from above" or whatever, this is just color)
Player : I draw my sword (I use my Fighter trait) I jump on the table (I use my "Raised in a tavern" Trait) and I spend 1 Resolution point.
etc etc...
The trick is : use whatever you want, but tell the story, and what you use is never free. You can't use again a used trait before you "rest", and rest is, of course, "not free" (rest is linked to trait availability and to the rythm of the session).

Cheers !


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Jim D. on May 05, 2010, 05:49:30 AM
Hi Jim D.,

Quote
and so it is now an inarguable part of the fiction until circumstances change.
Quote
Your agreed-upon framework for the game determined the existence of the table and its benefits.  The only "set in stone" portion of this whole thing is the rule in the D&D book that states height advantage =>  +2.  It's then up to the players to determine that existence and who has the credibility to firmly establish that (the GM, narrator, whatever).
And here we are at 'existance', when I'm assured no one at the forge is saying this exists. No, actually, people saying these 'things' exist is happening - here, for example.

I mean, in the last line of your example, if the GM said 'Nah, no +2. Just roll' am I right that you'd argue NOT based on the idea he promised you +2, but instead you'd argue based on the idea the table exists, right? That it had been 'established'?

It's like me saying I'll pay you for some bread you have, but only if A: You hand me the bread and B: lord Odin gives the nod. You ask if lord Odin is nodding. I say yes.

So you hand me the bread. I give you no money. Then you start arguing lord Odin was nodding. No, he stopped nodding I say. You get angry because I'm cheating or suchlike.

How do you determine cheating on such a matter, when there is no evidence? When it's just something locked away inside someones head?

I mean, in every other boardgame or even sport, there is some physical object you can physically measure to determine a result of cheating or not.

Do you really feel secure enough to call anyone a cheat on the existance of the established table/bonus given? It's a hard question.

I see where you make that point, Callan.  I confess I have played with capricious GMs like that who manage to change the rules or behavior of abilities or the environment on a whim, and the lack of consistency does become aggravating.  The question, I dare say, then becomes one not of the hypothetical existence of the table or the height advantage, but the coherence of the SIS.

We're using, incidentally, two different senses of the word "exists".  Physically, tangibly, the table is unreal, of course.  A figment of our imagination.  This, I believe, is the hangup a lot of us are having, this hypothetical argument (that perhaps no one has made!) that the table and cleric are real in the physical sense.  On the contrary, I'm trying to use the term "exists" to refer to the manifestation of the concept that the table is present in the scene.  Since when role-playing, we, being human, expect consistency and some reliance on the rules of the real world, we expect that if the person(s) with credibility has established that there is a table in the scene, it provides height advantage, and height advantage adds 2 to your attack roll, that when I stand on that table, it ought to provide me that +2!  If I did stand on the table, and the GM then declared, "nope, that table no longer provides +2," or to speak closer to your point, "you don't get +2 because I said so,"  you are, I confess, absolutely right that I'd be a little cheesed off.  I don't believe that weakens my argument; indeed, we may well agree that the table becomes something we can look up once it is established in the SIS.  I believe you have my point exactly right; that said, I fail to see where we disagree.  Let me know what I'm saying is jarring to you and we can debate it further.

The word "cheating" or "cheat" is a very hard line; D&D is a tough example in this instance because I believe it has very strong gamist elements, so at the extreme of that paradigm you might encounter players who declare behavior like that "cheating" on the part of the DM.  I'm hesitant to use "cheating" so much as "inconsistent".  Which, to you, and reasonably so, might be the same thing.  The bit about witch-hunting wrt. "cheating" and rule-breaking is valid; this is why you don't see D&D played professionally.  :)  Honestly, if the GM is capricious enough to randomly declare a table as granting advantage or not, with no explanation in the context of the SIS, I might speak to him privately, or go find another game.  Since in most RPGs the GM has credibility, he more or less has that say; that doesn't mean I have to like it.  I can't, and wouldn't, call him a cheat, but I can "vote with my wallet" (or in this case, more accurately, "vote with my time", but that's not quite as punchy).  But it's not the kind of thing over which I'd lunge across the table and start throwing punches.

I have yet to find anyone that professes some kind of "official Forge position" on the existence or non-existence of this table and +2, and the nature of that existence from a tangible or philosophical standpoint.  This is so much a philosophical question at this point that I'm uncertain we are going to arrive at some kind of satisfactory agreement.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 05, 2010, 07:06:24 AM
Callan,

Quote from: Callan S.
This is perhaps a slightly different topic. But although there are a few things I'd examine with you thought experiment, I'll cut to this - machine code does not compute the words 'height advantage'. Go type that into a programming language compiler. It'll either spit out an error or ignore it entirely. Because it is not concrete - it has not been put into concrete numbers. Your idea that you can just be 'hardware' for 'height advantage' is incorrect - because even real hardware cannot be hardware for the words 'height advantage'. If I were to program it, it'd go something like "On collision, if x >= other.x-z bonustohit = 2;'. With Z as the ammount of pixels it has to be higher than the other object. How many pixels?

Human-hardware does process words, though. You feed human-hardware with data and height advantage is either 0 or 1. When the computer would measure the amount of pixels or whatever, human-hardware can measure some other quality and proceed accordingly.

Quote
Hardware cannot and does not decide this. Your blurring human artistic choices and pure procedural following into one (perhaps harmful) thing.

Heh, but how do you measure if a choice is artistic or not? It's like you could refer physically to there being an art in the choice or not.

And, not really, I wouldn't say I'm blurring anything here. Upthread, I'm specifically considering the possibility that sometimes it's decision and sometimes it's identification, don't I?

(When it's decision, I'd say some strategic choice is necessarily involved in the context of playing a game (whatever the strategic goals of the player in a given case), while with identification, no choice other than to follow the procedure or stop playing the game as is.)

Caldis,

Quote from: Caldis
It's not quite that simple.  Someone has to place the figures on the battle grid and move figures on or off of it so in the end someone is always deciding.

Say, I decide the initial distance of our characters is 15 feet (3 suares). Then, you decide how to spend your movement points, and I decide how to spend mine, and we move around the battle grid for a few turns. Then, you decide to shoot at me. The rule says it's -2 to hit when your target is more than 30 feet (6 squares) away.

We count squares on the grid and our current distance is 60 feet (12 squares). You take -2 penalty to hit.

The moment we count squares, do we decide it's 60 feet? I did decide it was 15 feet initially, then both of us did decide how to spend our movement (how to spend our movement at that point, not what the distance is at this point), then you decided to shoot at me. But is there any decision involved in establishing range penalty, or do we just identify it?

And if we actually decide it's 60 feet and not 30 or 45 or 97, would it be different if it was explicitly a miniature wargame rather than "tabletop RPG"? Or, how is it different if we imagine the grid and perform all operations in our heads rather than based on physical representation? Or, how is it different if the grid only exists as data in computer memory, and all measurement is performed by virtual tabletop software?

Christian,

This might be a bit off topic, or it might not, I'm not sure. However, in your ruleset, is it fine for me to say: USS Enterprise appears and evaporates the goblin with photon torpedos (I use my "Raised in a tavern" trait and spend 1 Resolution point)? Or, is it fine for you to say "He calls his friends" every time you spend threat tokens for the goblin, over and over again?

With both, is it fine when the person saying that is genuinely convinced they are telling good story? With both, is it fine if they are just saying it, for reasons?

What happens when other players don't think it fits the story? USS Enterprise aside, what if I object to your goblin's dagger glowing red?

How does your ruleset process that? Does it at all?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Roger on May 05, 2010, 08:59:06 AM
Hi Callan,

I'm glad I stuck with this thread, because I think I finally see where you're coming from.  It's part of a big huge question, maybe the biggest question there is.  So I need to start at the big huge level, but I promise you that I'll bring it back to your specific discussion by the end of it.

The big question is:  what is real?  What is reality?  What makes something real?  More specifically, what are the properties of something that is real?

One important property is, as you've already brought up, an objective measurable continuity.  This anvil really weighs 50 pounds; anyone with access to it can weigh it themselves at any time, and they'll all come up with the same answer.

On the other hand, there are a number of things that many people would describe as real, as really existing, that don't have that property.  Abstract concepts like love, subjective concepts like beauty.  Even something like mathematics, which has laboured so diligently in the pursuit of objective truth, doesn't seem to be real in the same sense an anvil is.

However, those things tend to exhibit a subjective continuity, and so people often treat them as being as real as any other real thing.  Everyone agrees, more or less, on the meaning of the abstract concept "3".  Its properties are the same for everyone, at every time.

Similarly, a fiction can have this subjective continuity.  In Shakespeare's story of Macbeth, Macbeth kills King Duncan.  Everyone who has read the story will agree that that occurs in the fiction.  There can still be a lack of consensus on some properties of the fiction, of course -- not everyone agrees on the motivation behind the regicide, for example.

Is it possible to go through life rejecting all such abstract concepts as being unreal?  It's probably possible.  I present to you my good friend Literal Larry:

Roger:  Hi, Larry.  Say, I've been envisioning my ideal dream house.  My ideal dream house would be red.  Do you understand what I'm saying?
Larry:  Yes, I understand.
Roger:  Okay.  So, Larry -- what colour is my ideal dream house?
Larry:  Bzzt!  Does not compute!  Your ideal dream house does not exist and therefore cannot have a colour.
Roger:  Thanks, Larry.

But I think we might all agree that Larry is a little strange in this.

So, coming around circuitously to RPGs:  our old friend the Shared Imagined Space typically has this sort of fictional subjective continuity.  And it also has areas in which there is a lack of consensus.

As you have so ably pointed out, sometimes this lack of consensus can result in a crisis.  "Hey, I shot you!"  "No you didn't!  I dodged!"  "No way, I totally shot you!"  So what happens then?

What happens is that a conversation of some sort takes place.  Molding and mediating that conversation is essentially the only thing that RPG rules do.

Is this an arbitrary process?  Yes, in the sense that it is a process that consists of arbitration.  There is one or more arbitrators, and they arbitrate a resolution to the conflicting visions of the SIS.

Is this unusual to RPGs?  Not at all.  Many sports have rules which define a penalty named something like "Unsportsmanlike Conduct."  There's no definitive list or definition of exactly what constitutes it.  But referees call that penalty every day, and by and large people are happy with the results.  Even in very big and very important games where millions of dollars are at stake.

Alright, that's been a pretty long slog without any examples, so let me bust some out.  They'll all share the same basic setup:  The guys are sitting around playing D&D -- the characters are (within the established fiction) travelling through a forest, and the DM has just announced that a landshark has burst from the ground and attacked Jenkins -- something that the player of Jenkins is not too happy about.  "J" refers to that player, "DM" to the DM, and other letters indicate other players.

Scene 1:  An appeal to real props

J:  What?  It's attacking me?  That sucks.  Wait a minute -- he doesn't have 3 squares of reach, does he?  I'm out of range; he can't attack me.
DM:  Hunh?  Oh, whoops.  Alright, I guess it just bursts out of the ground and stands there, eyeing you hungrily.
J:  CHARGE!

(This one doesn't really reference the SIS at all, so it's  pretty straightforward.)

Scene 2:  An appeal to real props, take 2

J:  What?  It's attacking me?  That sucks.  Wait a minute -- he doesn't have 3 squares of reach, does he?  I'm out of range; he can't attack me.
DM:  Hunh?  Oh, whoops.  I mean he bursts out OVER HERE (moves the miniature) and attacks you.
J:  Dude that's sorta bogus, but whatever.

(This one displays the DM's mindset that the props are merely reflections of the SIS, not elements which define it, and so it's simply a matter of updating an incorrect prop so that it correctly reflects the fictional reality of the SIS.)

Scene 3:  An appeal to role authority

J:  Why is it attacking me?
DM:  Because I'm the DM and I say it's attacking you.
J:  Yep, guess it is.

(This occurs so often that I think many people don't even notice it occuring.  I don't think it's inherently dysfunctional, but some people probably disagree.)

Scene 4:  An appeal to 'the rules'

J:  Why is it attacking me?  Gutboy is a lot closer to it.
DM:  Yeah, but Gutboy is a dwarf, and look, the Monster Manual says right here in the third paragraph that landsharks don't like the taste of dwarves.
J:  Frickin' dwarves.

(Also relatively straightforward; 'the rules' really exist in an objective way.)

Scene 5:  An appeal to 'the rules', take 2

J:  Why is it attacking me?  I'm an elf, and the Monster Manual says landsharks don't like to eat elves.
DM:  Yes, but in my homebrewed campaign world of Elsuckia, the Elsuckian Landshark absolutely loves to eat elves.
J:  Alright fine whatever.

(The relationship between 'the rules' and 'the houserules' can be a bit dicey, but they tend to have the same type of authority with respect to the SIS.)

Scene 6:  An appeal to fortune

J:  Why me?
DM:  I gave each of you an equal chance of being attacked, rolled a die, and the dice say you get attacked.
J:  Frickin dice.

(This often gets described as "more fair" by people who favour it, although I'm not particularly sold on that myself.  Still, arbitration by fortune is pretty common.)

Scene 7:  An appeal to the metagame

J:  Why is a wandering monster yet again attacking me?
G:  Because you're a 3rd-level fighter in plate, and the rest of us are 1st-level dweebs with 2 hitpoints each.
J:  Heh, you guys suck.

(This isn't often the sort of thing you'd see so explicitly explained, but I think it's more common than some people would like to believe.)

Scene 8:  An appeal to the metagame, take 2

J:  Why is it attacking me?
G:  Because all the rest of us are guys who have been playing D&D together for the last 8 years, and you're the new guy who just showed up an hour ago.
J:  Sniffle.

(As above -- it's usually not this explicit.  But such things occur, and it's keeping in line with some social contracts.)

Scene 9:  An appeal to Spirit of the Century

J:  It's attacking me?  No way!  Here's my FATE point -- I'm tagging my Aspect "I'm way too stringy -- you should eat Gutboy instead!".
DM:  Ha, awesome.  Okay, Gutboy, it's attacking you.
G:  I hate that Aspect so much.

(I'm dropping out of pure D&D for a moment to demonstrate how different game systems arbitrate the conversation in different ways -- here, with a more direct influence on the SIS by a non-GM player.)

Scene 9:  The thing that never happens

J:  No it doesn't.
DM:  What?  Yeah, it does.  The landshark is attacking you.
J:  Nope.  Is not.
DM:  It bites you.  Take 9 points of damage.
J:  No.

(Seriously, this sort of thing just doesn't occur -- or doesn't occur for very long.  In a very literal way, J is no longer playing the game at all if he flat out refuses to accept this version of the SIS.  A crushing amount of social contract pressure is about to come down on poor J, and it's likely he'll back down or get exiled.)

Scene 10:  The other thing that never happens

J:  Dude, landsharks aren't real, you know.
DM:  What the hell is your problem?

(It was hard enough for me to imagine Scene 9 occuring; I find this so intensely implausible that I include it only as a sort of logical extreme.)


So.  It feels like it's been a long and winding road to get here to the end.  In summary:  People think all sorts of things which cannot be measured are really real.  People often talk about the properties of fictional things in such a way that, void of all context, it may seem that they're talking about real things.  People sometimes have disagreements about the properties of fictional things.  Shaping the resolution of those disagreements is the only important thing that RPG rules do.

I'm glad you brought this subject up; it's so deep and fundamental that I think I've avoiding taking a good hard look at it.


Cheers,
Roger


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christian on May 05, 2010, 10:45:03 AM
Christian,

This might be a bit off topic, or it might not, I'm not sure.

Hey !

I'll do my best to answer your questions. Be aware though that the ruleset is not finalized yet, and that it is certainly not 100% functional. That being said, your questions and my attempt to answer them can only lead to improvement, at least I hope so ! So here we go...

Quote
However, in your ruleset, is it fine for me to say: USS Enterprise appears and evaporates the goblin with photon torpedos (I use my "Raised in a tavern" trait and spend 1 Resolution point)?

You can't because 1) It doesn't show us or teach us anything about your character, 2) You essentially ask for narrative rights when it's not appropriate (during a conflict resolution)
Plus your "story" is unrelated to the Trait used. You can use any trait, but do your best to make it look good (at least look like you do!)

Quote
Or, is it fine for you to say "He calls his friends" every time you spend threat tokens for the goblin, over and over again?

I could, but as it would be boring, perhaps I should make a rule to prevent it. But as a conflict is played to resolve a whole scene, perhaps your question is irrelevant.

Quote
With both, is it fine when the person saying that is genuinely convinced they are telling good story? With both, is it fine if they are just saying it, for reasons? What happens when other players don't think it fits the story?

Out of conflict, it is fine to ask for "permission" to the gm. If everybody thinks it's a good story (fits with the context approved by everyone before play) then yes, go ahead! If it clashes and is said just to be a joke then no way.

Quote
USS Enterprise aside, what if I object to your goblin's dagger glowing red?

Except for particular cases, I don't see why. The glowing dagger is either 1)mere color, or 2) a malus for you but I paid for it.

Quote
How does your ruleset process that? Does it at all?

I hope I answered your questions!


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Paul T on May 05, 2010, 11:39:26 AM
Isn't this thread the reason games like GURPS were written?

I'm referring, of course, to rulebooks with pages and pages of "tables" and "modifiers", which were presumably written so that people could point to a book to establish an objective standard.

For instance, the book might say:

"Higher ground: +2 to hit. Assign this modifier if the attacker is at least 2' above the target. Examples: On horseback; firing from higher elevation to lower elevation; standing on a table."

The idea being that we can all look at that last bit and go, "Ah ha! +2 it is."

In actual play, I think that when a player says, "I climb up on the table", he or she is implicitly asking permission to get that +2 bonus. And, even absent the detailed chart which mentions standing on a table, in the groups I've seen such a player would most definitely feel cheated if the GM withheld that +2 bonus from them after they'd made that request. It's definitely grounds for a serious argument or at least a little bit of hurt feelings.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 05, 2010, 06:11:58 PM
Hi Christian,

Again kinda off topic but probably the more productive part of the thread! Okay, yeah, your example works and it's engaging of imagination.

But imagine that there's more of a 'talking shit' stage before any goal is declared. Now I know in traditional RPG's people...can talk shit for hours and it go nowhere. So lets say it only lasts until ten RL minutes are up or until some assigned person thinks an interestingly tense situation has sprung up.

Now roughly the same things could be said duing the talking shit mode, like you could say there's a goblin and he has this cool sounding black red glowing dagger. But no mechanical resources have been assigned yet. So we build it up a bit - the assigned person either calls it, cause damn, there's a goblin here with a dagger! Or ten minutes goes by and weve really described everything in enough detail now.

Now the ten minutes up, now the rules instruct you to ask what is the players goal? Well maybe he instead wants the damn dagger rather than the treasure chest (it's probably looted anyway!)! So that's his goal - the talking shit phase might actually set off something in him that makes what would be his goal, shift. Or maybe he thinks 'damn, that dagger sounds kewl - Christian is sure to spend malus because of it and I'm just about out of points - I'm a gettin' outta here! Goal: Retreat' so he'll strategize because he's seconding guessing what points you'll use, like you second guess people in poker, but instead of looking for beads of sweat on faces, he's second guessing based on what fiction you've described.

Anyway, just an idea. I think a talking shit phase can lead to different goals or approaches than if you start with 'what is your goal'. Or maybe you meant that with your example.

But yeah, it's totally clear cut with the spending, and that is an entirely refreshing thing! Just doing something, bang!, here and now!, instantly instead of wading through molasses before you get a climax. Also that the points are structured, so some sort of overall session play is built into the game rather than people trying to play and get some sort of structure in place at the same time. Good on ya! :)


Hi Jim,

Good post! Thanks for that!

Quote
we, being human, expect consistency and some reliance on the rules of the real world, we expect that if the person(s) with credibility has established that there is a table in the scene, it provides height advantage, and height advantage adds 2 to your attack roll, that when I stand on that table, it ought to provide me that +2!

Yes, but does your expectation mean anything, in terms of rules? I could go into dodgeball expecting not to be hit in the head, yet if there is no rule against it - then it's just some expectation I've cooked up. The expectation isn't actually relevant to the written rule.

There are various board games like diplomacy where people can ally, but then break that alliance at the drop of a hat latter on. You could get upset over that or realise it's all part of the game. Here, someones imagination can break their alliance with what you expect, by normal rules use. Perhaps they are doing it from whim, or perhaps you forgot 'the table got hit by a shrink ray' earlier. The table is as 'established' as those alliances are established.

To me, your quote makes it sound like expectations are more important than actual written rules. What gameplay exists, rests on expectations rather than rules.

I'm not going to lay into that, but this returns me to much the same sort of question I started with. Which comes first for people at the forge - expectations, or written rules?

Height advantage and it's kin - from what you say in your post, have expectations getting first priority. Would you disagree - you just mentioned how important expectations are to you?


Hi Filip,
Quote
Human-hardware does process words, though. You feed human-hardware with data and height advantage is either 0 or 1. When the computer would measure the amount of pixels or whatever, human-hardware can measure some other quality and proceed accordingly.
Take one hundred people and put them in seperate rooms. They have a piece of graph paper and two little cardboard figures. They are told to put one above the other at the very minimum needed for height advantage.

Will everyone do the same? Measure it on the graph paper down the millimetre and practically all of them will contradict the rest. Or so I say - run the test and we can find out!

Hell, take people from one gaming group, seperate them and do the same. They will produce results that contradict each other.

Now if they aren't all wrong somehow, what is the point of saying it's processing like hardware - no hardware does this (except for dice, I guess)?

Quote
This might be a bit off topic, or it might not, I'm not sure. However, in your ruleset, is it fine for me to say: USS Enterprise appears and evaporates the goblin with photon torpedos (I use my "Raised in a tavern" trait and spend 1 Resolution point)?
I'm not Christian, but it sounds fine to me. Oddball, but then I've seen manga where an old mans bed turns into a giant robot.

Do you have any AP accounts of people doing that? Would you do it? You wouldn't find it more fun to shape your words around 'Raised in a tavern'? And so be inclined to say something closer to 'Raised in a tavern' not because you have to, but because it's more fun to?

I'd say Christians design has 'fun gravity' and that gravity will attract you to say something closer to 'Raised in a Tavern'. Perhaps you still might say 'Well, one time we had this patron...his name was Kirk...I pick pocketed him and got this device that shoots and I now shoot the gobo with it!'. But to me, that sort of crazy high concept mash up makes me laugh and attracts me.

Christian, I can't quite describe why, but I've got a bad feeling on your list of 'you can't because'. It's relying on someone at the table 'knowing best'. Honestly that doesn't work amongst adults and also, amongst adults, is anyone going to really just call upon the USS enterprise?

And even if they did...so what? Is some god of RPG going to strike everyone down? Or is everyone going to go 'Oh, that player said it but it's up to something else to stop and limit him and nothing did - OMG! Nothing is tangible and that's the only important thing!' and then they all run screaming from the room?

I'd swear these are just superstitions your trying to address. But then again my original question kind of asked if people here are gripped by such.


Hi Roger,

It's not enough really. To say one isn't treating things as real, but then do the very same physical actions and say the very same things someone who does treat it as real would say and do. It doesn't really matter if you say it isn't real if the outcome of it all is exactly the same as the outcome you'd get with someone who does treat it as real.

Particularly when it comes to discussing design itself. Not even a break there. Still talking exactly like people who geniuinely believe it's real. The same outcome, even if you insist people aren't treating it as real.

Not the same topic but same idea, there was once a thread about storyteller games saying to young teens, in their formative years, that storyteller is sooo much about story, just pumping that idea while giving something not at all about story.

I mean, whitewolf weren't a school, they had no curriculum. So perhaps because of that it had no effect at all on anyone. And saying somethings real, to all sorts of new designers, to all sorts of people through books or blogs, like people in their formative teens, when really you don't believe it but the only things said say you do believe it. No effect at all, perhaps.

*Semi detached rant*

Or, given I was asking a question for myself at the very start, it's the same end result- even if all these other designers don't really believe it's real, everyone talking like it's real is is the same damn result. A never ending spew of mollases  (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28222.0)to wade through on anything collaborative. The same mollases as that actual play but in terms of design, because everyones so damn busy getting into how it's real (but don't believe it) it gets freakin' nowhere. Just cut to the combat in that AP? The actual meat? Hell no, that'd lose some sort of thing that's important! Cut past this 'your environement determines your combat advantage' double talk during design discussion? Hell no, that'd lose some sort of thing that's important!

Fuuuuuuuuck
*end rant*


Vincent, I outlined a contradiction in things you've written, but as far as I can tell your not even humouring the idea you could have made some error there, which is breaking one of the criteria for posting. So your post is in error/breaking our agreement. Please don't post in this thread again unless you can mull over the idea of an error.

Gareth, you seem to be telling me things as if your not considering you could be wrong on the matter. You need to add stuff like 'And this would be wrong if X'. Even Richard Dawkins said if a rabit skeleton is found in the wrong fossil record, it'd disprove the thing he passionately believes is true (evolution theory). Please don't post again unless you can mull over being wrong somehow.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: lumpley on May 05, 2010, 06:27:27 PM
I'm here in good faith. I wouldn't be posting in this thread if I hadn't considered the possibility that I'm mistaken -- them's the rules. In this case, though, you've misread me; I don't take the position you ascribe to me. There's serious problems in your understanding of what I've written.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Jim D. on May 05, 2010, 07:11:09 PM
Quote
from what you say in your post, have expectations getting first priority. Would you disagree - you just mentioned how important expectations are to you?

Not at all.  You've pretty much hit the nail on the head with respect to where I stand.  The rules of any tabletop RPG, as written, are what they are, but it's everyone's understanding of the SIS and how your group plays that counts.  Same reason, I believe, so many RPG rulebooks go to great lengths to encourage you play by the rules you think make sense or are the most fun, even if they skirt or even openly contradict what the rulebook suggests.  Why use a rule if it doesn't make sense to you and your group?  And I believe that generally the house rules that stick are the ones that:

a) are just more fun, or more often
b) better fit the group's expectations of how the game (per the manual) is played and how to best reflect the SIS and spirit of the campaign/session being run.

So yes, to word it succinctly, I do believe the "real" component of an RPG depends on the hybrid of the game, house rules, and group.  It's their knowledge and expectations that build the SIS, and become the reference point, even more so than the rulebook, even though what the group "expects" is often made up in large part of the written rules.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: contracycle on May 05, 2010, 07:21:46 PM
Gareth, you seem to be telling me things as if your not considering you could be wrong on the matter. You need to add stuff like 'And this would be wrong if X'. Even Richard Dawkins said if a rabit skeleton is found in the wrong fossil record, it'd disprove the thing he passionately believes is true (evolution theory). Please don't post again unless you can mull over being wrong somehow.

Hahaha.  Shit man, I CAN always be wrong, that goes without saying, that doesn't oblige me to construct self-critical positions which I think are think are bogus.  Whats more, I'm not obliged to do your job for you - I'm not obliged to invent weaknesses in my own arguments for your benefit.  If thats your criterion for participation, that everyone with a contrary view must also concoct a reason why you are right, then you are simply demanding acquiescence from the outset.

Either you can counter my argument, or you can't. You haven't even made an an attempt to do so here.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christian on May 06, 2010, 12:29:10 AM
Callan :
About the talking shit : steps are clear and to be followed in strict order:
- informal description, talking, etc (standard, out of conflict roleplaying stuff)
- player or gm asks for a conflict
- player states his goal
- gm spends (or not) threat tokens
- player activates traits and all
- roll the dice
- goal reached (or not), someone narrates

So there is no back and forth talking shit.
And if there is, maybe it's more a problem of person... or maybe i misunderstand something.

About not allowing the enterprise stuff : you're right, but I got to be more precise :
- if the player asks for that out of conflict, the gm allows it or not, based on the context decided altogether. As you say, grownups etc !
- the player can't ask for it as is during conflict, but using your example he could say "I use my (relevant) trait, I remember capt kirk phone number, etc... far fetched but if the context allows it, why not.
- (the one point I forgot) just after the conflict, the narrator (can be the player or the gm) has narrative rights, so he could imagine this enterprise stuff, again considering the context allowed.

For the context relevancy aspect, well, as you say people are grownups. If the context boils down to "anything goes" or "science fantasy" then why not ?
In other cases, perhaps there should exist some kind of veto rule, I don't know... "When all other players roll their eyes, the narrator just shut up and grab the nachos". He he, what do you say ?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Caldis on May 06, 2010, 06:16:00 AM

Keeping it simple.

If you dont say your character climbed up on that table the gm has no reason to give you a bonus to hit.  Because you did the gm gives you the bonus but also because of that he knows your character is on this imaginary table so he can use it subsequently in following rounds like say if he decides to have the enemy smash the table sending your cleric falling to the floor to face all the penalties that entails.  We have rules but they depend on imagined events.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Roger on May 06, 2010, 07:29:05 AM
Hi Callan,

My earlier optimism about understanding your point was, I fear, perhaps misplaced.  I read through your linked AP (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28222.0) (which, in retrospect, I probably should have started with) and it seems to me that you're doing exactly the thing that you're opposed to.

By way of specific example, I mean the places where you write:

...we've been hired to do a job...

...we'd head off, down the road toward the destination...

...we were to head up to this cave where some orcs were near it and retrieve some treasure for our employer...

...We get to the cave and the orcs have a camp about 700 meters away from the cave...


Those all seem to be cases where, if I didn't have any other context, I would be unable to distinguish whether it was your fictional characters fictionally going off to a fictional cave, or whether it was you real people really going to a real cave.

To be fair, I think you're speaking mostly towards the way the rules and games are designed and written, rather than the way Actual Play is written.  Still, it seems like if the players are naturally comfortable speaking in terms of "we get to the cave and the orcs have a camp" that the rules might be written to direct that situation in similar language:  "When the characters get to the cave, they can make a Perception check to notice the orc's camp, about 700 meters away."

So, in summary: yes, I think I see the phenomenon you're describing as occurring all the time.  No, I don't see any fundamental problems arising from it.  Even if there were deep problems to resolve, I don't think I see any clear alternative that would resolve them.


Cheers,
Roger


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 06, 2010, 05:14:22 PM
Hi Jim,
Quote
Not at all.  You've pretty much hit the nail on the head with respect to where I stand.  The rules of any tabletop RPG, as written, are what they are, but it's everyone's understanding of the SIS and how your group plays that counts.  Same reason, I believe, so many RPG rulebooks go to great lengths to encourage you play by the rules you think make sense or are the most fun, even if they skirt or even openly contradict what the rulebook suggests.  Why use a rule if it doesn't make sense to you and your group?  And I believe that generally the house rules that stick are the ones that:

a) are just more fun, or more often
b) better fit the group's expectations of how the game (per the manual) is played and how to best reflect the SIS and spirit of the campaign/session being run.

So yes, to word it succinctly, I do believe the "real" component of an RPG depends on the hybrid of the game, house rules, and group.  It's their knowledge and expectations that build the SIS, and become the reference point, even more so than the rulebook, even though what the group "expects" is often made up in large part of the written rules.
Well there you go! Probably the most productive on topic outcome for the thread! You prioritize what you'd call expectation! We both have written something that gives each other an understanding of what the others on about (instead of one person just saying the other 'doesn't understand' or such)!

Just celebrating that a bit - it's a good outcome! Thanks for contributing, Jim! :)

Now I'm not going to get into it heavily, because I'd rather wrap up this bit on a high. But here's a question: How many other gamers do you think prioritize expectation ahead of rules? If you were to say a large segment of them, I'd even agree that may be the case (even though I don't happen to prioritize expectation - I prioritize rules (where there are any)). Kind of a open ended question to finish off this bit with :)


Hi Christian,

I think I sounded too derogitory with the phrase 'talking shit'...I meant a kind of affectionate derogitory! I wasn't saying it's bad (except when it goes on for ages/hours and it's all talk and no walk). A small amount is valuable, a large amount is not good. What I was trying to describe, with the ten minute rule, is a good thing (in my estimate). I think have communicated poorly. There was something cool I wanted to describe to you, but did not do well at it at all.

Quote
In other cases, perhaps there should exist some kind of veto rule, I don't know... "When all other players roll their eyes, the narrator just shut up and grab the nachos". He he, what do you say ?
Just in terms of the USS enterprise sort of stuff? Hmmm, I think it's complicated. It depends on whether the issue is 'The USS enterprise was brought in at all' or 'The USS enterprise was brought in because the other person doesn't mean well'. With the latter, someone can mean well, but bug the crap out of you from something they do. We all know that. That's where playing with people you do other things with really matters, because we tolerate friends doing stuff that bugs us, sometimes.

I think with the latter, if your playing with friends/for people who buy this game, if they play it with friends - people you'll tolerate some being bugged by, just work without a net/no veto rule at all. If the person means well in their contribution - is it a bad thing? It's the thought that counts. Well to me it ceases to be about judging fiction and instead about appreciating that people care and are trying to give something. If the USS enterprise shows up but the person cares and is trying to give - well, that's the important thing, not some darn genre adherance! Note that up front in the games text, so people know they can't just play this with random people.

Also stick a time limit on talking. Make a rule that anyone can flip over an egg timer if they want things to wrap up and move on, for example. :)

What do you think?


Hi Roger,

When I linked it I looked at it and thought 'someones probably going to note that, but I'll take that on when it occurs'

If you asked me about any of the components like '...we've been hired to do a job...' I would say well actually the GM was just talking a bunch of shit and I was waiting around, to see what mechanic in the book would be invoked by him next.

I wouldn't say "Oh yes, totally there's money to be had and an adventurer has to eat you know!"

I would quit with the molasses. I would talk straight about what was actually there. A GM just talking shit and I was waiting around.

As opposed to, if height advantage is discussed, pouring on more molasses "totally your environment determines your combat advantage!"

And if it's discussed further, pouring even more molasses on "But it's not really some sort of 'environment', it's the GM deciding" "No look it's obvious the table is high, and the character just established they are on it, so it's just totally invoking the +2". Always more molasses rather than talking about the man behind the curtain.

Or maybe after the second layer of molasses, if you start up a thread like this they'll finally cut to the man behind the curtain.

There's quite a distinction there, I hope you can see it. Most non gamer people on the street would engage in one layer of molasses 'Cookie monster loves cookies' or 'Luke was a Jedi', but if pressed they'd say 'Well, it was just a puppet' and 'Well, actually it was just an actor in a movie'.

I'm not your literal Larry after all. But nor am I a molasses Monty, either.

But if you want to clump it all into the same thing, well there we part *shrug*



Back to the moderation
And finally, who'd be a moderator for a lark?

I blame myself for adding a 'you can return and post if' statement and then not defining that 'if'
Okay, this is no good
"There's serious problems in your understanding of what I've written."
Only with qualifier or caveat is it good
"There's serious problems in your understanding of what I've written, unless there's something I'm missing on the matter."
Or something along those lines. It doesn't matter if you've said prior your considering you could be wrong. If you can't say it in the same sentence then do not post.

Also atleast for myself, unless it's somehow impossible to communicate with the other guy, it's not just him failing to understand, it'd be me failing to communicate.



Anyway, that identification of expectations being prioritised ahead of rules was a good result for the thread!


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: lumpley on May 06, 2010, 06:22:54 PM
Callan, come the fuck on. I don't take the position you ascribe to me. I mean, I don't, unless there's something I'm seriously fucking missing on the matter. Let me reiterate my position: Your DM decided. Luke Skywalker is a Jedi; Mark Hamill's not. Cookie Monster loves to eat cookies, but Cookie Monster is a muppet and his muppeteer can't really eat cookies through his hand. Duh.

Unless there's something I'm missing, you've drawn the wrong conclusions from what I've written.

I've given up trying to explain myself to you -- that was a long, frustrating, and (here we are!) fruitless effort -- but I am inclined to answer when you ascribe bullshit nonsense to me.

-Vincent


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christian on May 06, 2010, 10:47:47 PM
Callan : yeah, you're right, I don't think this talking shit is a serious problem, and that is a matter of people playing together, and trust and affinities. I say, let people decide. I'd be the gm and that thing comes up early, I'd say "why not?". Science fantasy's good. No veto rule. Or the rule should be "if you can't agree, stop playing together!"

I like the idea of the timer ! I'm gonna think about it. Seriously, how cool would that be? "Ok, devise your plan. Timer." I like it !

Thanks for your thoughts.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 09, 2010, 06:59:51 PM
Callan,

Quote from: Callan S.
Take one hundred people and put them in seperate rooms. They have a piece of graph paper and two little cardboard figures. They are told to put one above the other at the very minimum needed for height advantage.

Take one hundred computers created by different producers, varying in technical capabilities and loaded with different operating systems. Run the same program. Do you get exactly the same performance?

The fact that you're dealing with a flawed hardware doesn't make it less of a hardware. It only means that when designing for human-hardware, you need to account for its seemingly chaotic performance.

Computers are good at processing numbers, but currently suck at processing words and concepts. Human-hardware is good at processing words and concepts, but sucks at math compared to machine. Still hardware enough for practical purposes, I'd say.

Anyway.

Recently, it occurred to me that for all your talk about measuring physical objects and all, you seem to be largely ignoring fine branches of science that deal with measuring stuff in the realm of those "height advantage" and describe its processing in computational algorithms. Like this one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurolinguistics) or this one. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psycholinguistics) I'm not an expert in any of those, obviously, but neither are you, it unfortunately seems.

The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to believe this "height advantage" should actually be referred to in the same terms as the physical ball in your roulette wheel's slot, as in concrete representations of game data. At this point I'm specifically not sure if on this level, other than means of storage, there's any practical difference between the physical prop, bites on your hard drive or neurons firing in your head. All seem to carry concrete game data.

Regarding Christian's design:

Quote
Do you have any AP accounts of people doing that?

Yes.

Quote
Would you do it? You wouldn't find it more fun to shape your words around 'Raised in a tavern'? And so be inclined to say something closer to 'Raised in a tavern' not because you have to, but because it's more fun to?

I don't know.

Quote
I can't quite describe why, but I've got a bad feeling on your list of 'you can't because'.

Well, I asked my questions to Christian specifically expecting to see quite a lot of "you can't just because" answers.

I recall having a design not unlike Christian's, where it didn't matter what weapon your character was using, it only mattered what attack value and resource points you had on your sheet. It didn't even matter if your character was using any weapon at all or some wild kung-fu, since you could describe your attacks according to your aesthetic preferences, all being mechanically equal. This addressed some of my issues with Exalted at that time, which punished the player mechanically for most weapon choices other than the grand daiklave (boring). When I pitched this game to some gamers I used to hang out with (not my regular gaming group at the time), here's what they told me: "You're kidding? Everybody will go overboard with weapons!"

Apparently, this reaction was grounded in their actual play history, when the GM allowed too much leeway when it came to equipment and powers, and then someone declared his character a God. Perhaps the group was terribly dysfynctional, I don't know; those guys used to game together regularly like that, and they found it fun. So, perhaps I was the only dysfunctional person there, with my perverse mechanical ideas?

Either way, they were all adults. 18-20-something age range, but still adults by my country's laws. For all I care "grownup" is an empty word. If you consider all the shit going on in the world, it was all caused by grownups, didn't it? Still, somehow people expect others to magically do one thing or another based on them being grownup. In a game, of all things, when most adults I know don't even accept games to be a particularly grownup thing to do.

And here, you're referring to "grownup" as if it was a physical and objectively measurable quality, when it's pure personal value judgment of yours. About as physical and real as various "height advantages", incidentally, if not less so.

Anyway, all in all, I find it interesting what happens when the rules allow you to say anything you want and you actually say something you weren't allowed to, as it turns out. I'm especially interested in whether it's different when you genuinely believe you're saying something proper and fine, versus when you have other reasons or no reasons at all.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 10, 2010, 01:48:24 PM
Quote from: Filip
Quote from: Me
Take one hundred people and put them in seperate rooms. They have a piece of graph paper and two little cardboard figures. They are told to put one above the other at the very minimum needed for height advantage.

Take one hundred computers created by different producers, varying in technical capabilities and loaded with different operating systems. Run the same program. Do you get exactly the same performance?
I'd expect the same result each time. Either that or there has been human error in choosing the hardware set up. Machines don't make mistakes, only humans do.

You can only blame your tools for so long. No, if your getting chaotic results from putting in 'height advantage' you can either keep blaming your tools, or realise what your putting in is flawed. It's one reason I recommend to roleplay designers as part of their theory development to go do some programming on a computer instead of something/someone that makes up for your logistical shortfalls. Trying to program is an excercise in humility. It exposes your own shortfalls to you nakedly, while other people cover them up and paper them over, if only to avoid angry responces from you. I still write code, expecting it to just damn well work, yet no. And I have no 'dick' at a table to blame, no flawed hardware to blame. If anything I am the flawed hardware in such a case. But who wants to admit that? With RP no one has to admit it! You can always blame the other guy.

Actually that might have made a good mod requirement - describe a RP theory or AP situation where you were wrong, or don't participate. Bit late to add that now, but noting the idea, all the same.

Quote
The more I think about it, the more I'm starting to believe this "height advantage" should actually be referred to in the same terms as the physical ball in your roulette wheel's slot, as in concrete representations of game data.
I'm not sure why 'height advantage' doesn't sound the same as 'how long is a piece of string' to you, as in it asks an arbitrary, subjective value?

Quote
I recall having a design not unlike Christian's, where it didn't matter what weapon your character was using, it only mattered what attack value and resource points you had on your sheet. It didn't even matter if your character was using any weapon at all or some wild kung-fu, since you could describe your attacks according to your aesthetic preferences, all being mechanically equal. This addressed some of my issues with Exalted at that time, which punished the player mechanically for most weapon choices other than the grand daiklave (boring). When I pitched this game to some gamers I used to hang out with (not my regular gaming group at the time), here's what they told me: "You're kidding? Everybody will go overboard with weapons!"
I think Ron has an anecdote about writing a game called 'bullshit less' and someone he played with read it and said 'you can't just read this - you'd have to play'...and that was a stumbling block, apparently. People invent hurdles.

Quote
Anyway, all in all, I find it interesting what happens when the rules allow you to say anything you want and you actually say something you weren't allowed to, as it turns out.
No, that'd be someone breaking the rules, if you can't say some particular thing (smelly chamberlain style, actually. As in a secret rule breaking agenda emerging at surprise moment).

But upthread we already had a discussion of expectations being prioritised ahead of rules. So me saying it's the rules being broken will sound pretty meaningless to anyone who prioritises expectations ahead of rules (when expectations are being broken by regular rules use). When rules don't come first, who cares if they are being broken, eh? But by the same token, if the rules say 'you can say anything you want' you aught not listen to them for the fact of the matter, since they don't come first. So it's not particularly interesting - it's either cheating, or expectations have priority over rules. The vaunted 'spirit of the game' perhaps?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Jim D. on May 11, 2010, 05:35:03 AM
But upthread we already had a discussion of expectations being prioritised ahead of rules. So me saying it's the rules being broken will sound pretty meaningless to anyone who prioritises expectations ahead of rules (when expectations are being broken by regular rules use). When rules don't come first, who cares if they are being broken, eh? But by the same token, if the rules say 'you can say anything you want' you aught not listen to them for the fact of the matter, since they don't come first. So it's not particularly interesting - it's either cheating, or expectations have priority over rules. The vaunted 'spirit of the game' perhaps?

I'm sure you already get my point, Callan, so what I'm about to say might be redundant.  But that's where expectation as we've defined it gets a little hairy:  I honestly believe that the "expectations" create the rules in force for the session.  It all links back to what you succinctly referred to as "the spirit of the game".  All things considered, I dare say these three things fold into one -- the expectations of the game group, usually shaped by the spirit of the game's concept (if not its wording), create the rules as the hybrid I mentioned before; the accepted rules therefore, properly implemented, reflect the spirit of the game and the spirit of the group's interpretation; and the spirit of this group's game it feed their expectations, which feeds back into their understanding...  It's cyclical.

To say "expectations >> rules" without qualifier is to miss the point; some order should be maintained or the game no longer makes sense, and the "expectations" don't exist because a state of near constant flux results; no one's sure what to expect!


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 11, 2010, 06:18:56 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm back from my week in Italy. I'd like to review this thread in detail, for purposes of participation and mainly for moderation (e.g. possible splits). So without any implication regarding its content so far, please delay further posting until I post next. Thanks.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2010, 07:49:17 AM
The thread may continue, subject to two moderator points.

1. Callan, you should acknowledge Vincent's point. Either you don't believe him or think he's lying or something, in which case say so; or acknowledge that you're talking about some kind of construction of the SIS which isn't what he's talking about.

2. Callan, you mentioned that you could draw upon a huge number of possible instances of actual play to illustrate your points. Do so, at least occasionally. I am overriding your suggestion that this would be distracting and mandating that you include at least some mention of some actual event in role-playing, here and there.

Finally, depending on how the thread goes, I may close it and call for daughter threads if that seems most sensible. At this point, though, the topic still seems unified enough to me to continue here.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Callan S. on May 13, 2010, 05:38:11 PM
- Ron, Vincents point, in regard to my last post to him, was irrelevant. If you shout fire in a crowded theatre, it doesn't matter if you did or didn't really believe there was a fire. The result in terms of other peoples behaviour is the same, they bolt out, thinking there's a fire. If you sound exactly like someone who thinks "your tactical advantage depends upon details of your character's immediate circumstances", whether you do really think that or not is pretty irrelevant to it's effects on other people when they read that. I wanted to talk about that point (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=29754.msg276430#msg276430), he ignored that point and went back to stating what he apparently really meant as if certain that was the end of it, I tried to mod on this whole certainty thing, got the 'oh come the fuck ons', which I ceased reading. Your ignoring my moderation as well because you think 'he has a point', whereas if you closed the thread and I then posted 'oh come the fuck on' if I just happened to think I have a point, you'd see it as entirely missplaced.

On your number 2, I've said ask me for more details - I don't know what people might want to look at in particular. Particularly if they have an issue - if someone can't tell you what would have to be the case to disprove their theory, blindly stabbing about for examples of something that would somehow force them to see it's disproved is pointless. No one asked for more details (or did someone ask and I failed to read it? Could have, I grant). Also asking makes for less detached 'just looking' behaviour and becomes more personally connected. Though I grant I could have prompted more to be asked for details, as I only said it once in the first post.

Regardless, mostly in terms of the former, this really isn't good enough. We got somewhere with the 'expectations priority over rules' identification, but now this thread is closed.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2010, 07:09:33 PM
Those dogs do not hunt.

You do not get to play moral high ground with Vincent, nor does this have anything to do with my position in this argument - in which as it happens, I don't have a particular position. The point is that neither of you have behaved well toward one another in this thread, and although I concede I should have said so to him too in my post, the fact remains that calling for a frank un-snarky statement from you is a fair demand.

Your calling for examples from others isn't the issue. I'm calling for them from you, and only to a minimal and occasional extent. This is not an excessive demand.

Closing threads is my prerogative here, and when I use it, it's not to score the last word in arguments. Fang used to try that stunt a lot (ah memories).

Dialogue on the thread topic is open and welcome. I will close it for daughter threads if that becomes necessary.

My current thinking is that the SIS-exists-or-not issue is a red herring. The real issues seem to me to be that the spoken record of play (my guy has the high ground) may be a feeble foundation for certain mechanics applications (the +2), and even if it isn't, the standards and immediate usability of what I say next in play are not typically clear in role-playing.

Let's take that first bit, about the "strength" of the existing verbal record and, presumably, shared imagined context for applying such a rule. I'm thinking about those competitive adventure modules, the classic D&D and AD&D stuff like the Giants series and Slave Lords. Every single encounter is not only textually prepared, but verbally prepared, with exactly what the players hear from the DM being pre-scripted into those boxes with bold type. And then, in the regular type, the DM gets some instruction about the tactics and monsters and what-not to apply ... and in many cases, the application of things like +2 for the high ground * is textually rock-solid. The geography/layout of the cave or room or whatever is set in stone, and in that context, the goblins (let's say it's goblins) are attacking from the high ledge or whatever, and they get a +2.

The trouble is that now, instead of using one of those modules, I'm dealing with some kind of more fluid and emergent situation in play, in which someone jumps up onto a table, for instance, and claims the same high-ground bonus those goblins got. Does he get it because he says it? After all, the goblins got because .... wait for it ... the book said it. Not a person. The book, as in the book, the rules, presumed to be binding on everyone in play.

See what I mean? The book kind of pretends that the bonus is derived from the fictional content, but the fact is that both the fictional content (high ground) and bonus (+2) are presented in the very same medium and at the same time, as a coherent if logically-circular unit. Which provides no guideline whatsoever, or no rigorous line of reasoning, for trying to apply that circular logic to the non-circular circumstances of arriving at how to know when to use that +2 bonus in ordinary, non-scripted, emergent by the simple spoken exchange of words through time among real people.

So OK, now for the second bit I talked about, that here I am, and our characters are in a fight scene, and let's go further and say the situation arose very thoroughly through play itself and the GM (to be generic about the system in question) didn't prep "fight scene time" beforehand. Anyway, so anything and everything about the fictional circumstances was established through previous description, and perhaps currently as well, from people Director-Stancing things into play like saying "I grab the bar stool" when no bar stools had been described although a bar was mentioned.

And I say, "I jump up on the table to fight them from there," and then I say, "So I get +2!!"

Huh. Rules-use? Open to judgment and possible negation by anyone? What the fuck? I hope my point is clear, that something else is involved, and at the moment, I think it has a lot to do with group attention to what's going on, and to some kind of validation that the fiction has been altered enough to include such an application of the rules. What that validation consists of, and what standards are applied in providing it ... man, I dunno. That is very, very interesting.

I promise to use real play rather than hypotheticals in my next post.

One more point going forward: no snark. This is a topic of genuine interest, not an opportunity for whining and scoring personality-points.

Best, Ron

* Which I'm beginning to think is a great name for a rock-and-roll album


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: contracycle on May 13, 2010, 11:27:20 PM
Theoretically the what-was-said of play could be recorded and referenceable, make it as robust as a rules text.  But I suspect the more interesting case arises when someone should have had the +2 for high ground, but everyone at the time forgot to invoke it and it was not applied.  That sort of thing certainly happens, and has happened to me, and sometimes has significant inplications for rolled outcomes.  A similar case is when I have some aspect of the character or peice of equipment recorded in my character sheet, which I forget about.  Is a "ring of defence AC+1" a rule or a part of the IS?

Similarly, the high ground place could be disputed; that is, the GM could say, no,  standing on  table isn't enough to justify the +2.  Or it could be negotiated, and the group could come to the agreement that while not high enough for a +2 bonus the table could justify a +1 situational advantage.

So I think all of thse cases could summed up as process in which a claim is "invoked and agreed"; it might fail due to not being invoked, or not being agreed.  A GM or other system-empowered player might be able to invoke without needing agreement as such, just like the writer of a module text, but in this regard their authority to do so exists explicitly.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Caldis on May 14, 2010, 08:25:28 AM

I think this all really boils down to Lumpley principle stuff, somehow the group has to come to an agreement about whats happening in the game.  There are a million different ways to do it and each is going to be specific to it's own game.  As has been pointed out there are several games where things like this dont matter, if you are using a system with fortune at the beginning then those details come up after it's already been resolved and you can narrate in the use of height advantage as the reason for success.

I do get a hint of a problem in the discussion that reminds me of something from boardgames, the distinction between abstract games and thematic games.  Abstract games are things like Chess or Go where the movement of the pieces are apropos of nothing save themselves and it's a clear contest of moving the pieces.  Thematic games have a theme applied to them like say owning a plantation or building a farm in the middle ages and the game is supposed to have the feel of doing that theme even if it is still a contest of who builds the best farm or biggest plantation.    Maybe I'm deluded but I get a sense that Callan is valuing the game on the abstract level as a contest of numbers and less on the thematic level?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 14, 2010, 08:28:26 AM
And I say, "I jump up on the table to fight them from there," and then I say, "So I get +2!!"

Huh. Rules-use? Open to judgment and possible negation by anyone? What the fuck? I hope my point is clear, that something else is involved, and at the moment, I think it has a lot to do with group attention to what's going on, and to some kind of validation that the fiction has been altered enough to include such an application of the rules. What that validation consists of, and what standards are applied in providing it ... man, I dunno. That is very, very interesting.

I, too, think this is very interesting, and have been thinking about it a lot over the last week. Specifically the notion of "validation" and "standards."

What those standards are, how they are arrived at, is the nub of a big issues.

In my play I've observed this: the fiction built by the group is never fully concrete, but always in a state of flux. Different people of course have different notions of what the specific are in fiction. When those differences clash ("Is my guy on the table or not?") the group then focuses on the details of that fictional element and make it more concrete -- never completely concrete, but concrete enough to continue moving forward with building story.

There's nothing strange about this in terms of story. But the point is, this is about story creation. When Filip says he is talking about "game as game" I'm completely with him in terms of, say, Sorcerer being something that isn't "game as game." My own view is that Sorcerer, In A Wicked Age..., and lots of other things we call "games" are actually "tools for making stories socially." Like a piano is a tool for making music.

And rather than depending on "rules-use" alone to navigate the session the whole time, there are moments of "validation" and "standards" where the table says "Yes" or "No" or "Fuck you."

I'm bringing all this up to make sure I'm on the same page of the discussion. This is the stuff I've been thinking about, and I think it's where this thread is going.

But I want to ask something: A lot of the original focus was about the physical aspect of the fiction (whether there's a height advantage, whether or not something is available in the market). But I think the conversation Fillip and I had about "With Love" is equally a part of the conversation.

I, too, think that the notion of whether or not there is a "reality" to the SIS is a red herring (No, it isn't real; yes, it gets more defined enough for play to continue as required). But this notion of what gets validated and what standards are applied and how those standards are applied moves across all interactions of fiction and rules, from +2 height bonus to "With Love" for dice selection to "My character's Trait does apply to this conflict, so I'm bringing in an augment" to "Oh, no, I'm sorry... I had a different picture in my head. I thought you were all the way across the starport. You can use a ranged weapon if you want, or take two rounds to close on the guy you want to help."

To me, they are all under the same umbrella. But that might not be the umbrella of this discussion. So, I'm checking in here.

I have an actual play example from the starport scene ready to go, with observations about validation and standards if I'm on track.

CK


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Roger on May 14, 2010, 08:39:02 AM
Some of this might seem a bit familiar to some people; it's something I've written on before (but that was a long time, and I should really get around to putting more work into it.)  I think the missing link that breaks us out of the loop of circular logic doom is what might be called "The Real World", but really all I mean is everything outside of the game, which might include other fictions and such as well.  What the lit majors would call "extra-diegetic."

For example, consider these two rules:

1.  When a character is standing on the high ground, he gets a +2 to hit.

2.  When a character is standing on a rug, he gets a +2 to hit.

From a purely mechanical and legal viewpoint, these two rules are virtually identical.  There's nothing inherent there that should make one of them any better than the other.

But I think that with an average group of average people, it'll be easier to accept rule #1 on a visceral level than rule #2.  This often gets pawned off on the basis of "rule #1 is more realistic" but I think that's misleading at best.  "More consistent with all our other Outside-This-Game knowledge and experience" is a lot closer.

There are all sorts of implications around this.  Every set of rules is going to depend, to greater or lesser degrees, on this Outside-This-Game knowledge of the audience and players.  On the 'to a greater degree' side of things, we have every edition of D&D (but increasingly-so as one travels back in time to the earliest editions,) and Primetime Adventures, to pick a couple examples.

When the players have a different set of Outside-This-Game experiences, or one player's are different from the rest of the group's, things can get... interesting, and unpredictable.  I don't know enough to say if that describes Callan in situ, but it seems like a possibility.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 15, 2010, 05:21:21 PM
Callan,

Quote from: Callan S.
Quote from: Filip
I recall having a design not unlike Christian's, where it didn't matter what weapon your character was using, it only mattered what attack value and resource points you had on your sheet. It didn't even matter if your character was using any weapon at all or some wild kung-fu, since you could describe your attacks according to your aesthetic preferences, all being mechanically equal. This addressed some of my issues with Exalted at that time, which punished the player mechanically for most weapon choices other than the grand daiklave (boring). When I pitched this game to some gamers I used to hang out with (not my regular gaming group at the time), here's what they told me: "You're kidding? Everybody will go overboard with weapons!"

I think Ron has an anecdote about writing a game called 'bullshit less' and someone he played with read it and said 'you can't just read this - you'd have to play'...and that was a stumbling block, apparently. People invent hurdles.

Oh, but they didn't invent anything, it was actually there. They were totally right. My rule was broken.

My rule said that you could describe your weapons and attacks however you wanted. However, if someone asked me the USS Enterprise question at the time, I'm sure my answer would be along the lines of "Uh, oh, not USS Enterprise. Describe your weapons however you want: kung-fu, big swords, mecha, airships, what have you, but no USS Enterprise." Magitek airships fine. USS Enterprise lame.

So, regardless what my rule said, the actual rule was different ("however you want, unless Filip finds it lame," i.e. too vague for any practical use). You could totally go overboard with weapons, though not necesarily the way those guys seemed to be thinking about.

(The one time I played V:tM with that group, my Brujah, Japanese martial artist with maxed out Melee, was not allowed to start with a katana. I was only given your standard issue handgun with a single clip of ammo. Taking a quick side trip to the nearest museum to steal the katana using Celerity was perfectly acceptable, though.)

Christopher,

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
But the point is, this is about story creation. When Filip says he is talking about "game as game" I'm completely with him in terms of, say, Sorcerer being something that isn't "game as game." My own view is that Sorcerer, In A Wicked Age..., and lots of other things we call "games" are actually "tools for making stories socially." Like a piano is a tool for making music.

Nope, you're misinterpreting and misrepresenting my point here. When I'm talking about "game as game", I still have games like IAWA in mind. I don't know and don't really care about Sorcerer (we only tried it once, and didn't move far past chargen), but IAWA is firmly a game.

If anything, it's a tool for spending four hours with your friends playing some characters and rolling some dice. Granted, some story comes out, but it's a byproduct of gameplay, not an end in itself.

When you say "tools for making stories socially", I can only picture something like WoD, at least like I've seen it played by some groups. And come to think about it, it just occurred to me that I participated in some sessions of WoD where there might have been no "height advantage" equivalents. That's because the activity was pure storytelling and social stuff, with little to no actual gameplay: no rules application (other than perhaps Rule Zero), no significant choices or consequences, no in-fiction actions to resolve, with the characters largely in the position of spectators and commentators. That didn't seem like a "game as game" at all, "tools for making stories socially" sounds much more like it. Lots of story and social bullshit, little to no game.

Compared to that, IAWA is about as gamey as chess.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure about board games. I can think of some examples when we had "height advantage" equivalents in an explicit board game. All examples I can think of are also examples of dealing with ambiguous rules wording, however.

Quote
But I want to ask something: A lot of the original focus was about the physical aspect of the fiction (whether there's a height advantage, whether or not something is available in the market). But I think the conversation Fillip and I had about "With Love" is equally a part of the conversation.

Well, I started that part of the conversation being surprised this wasn't obvious from the opening post (the part about skill roll permissions, specifically). "With Love" is a bit tricky in that even if you had a module with textually rock solid relationships, it still wouldn't be unambiguous whether the character's particular actions are driven by love or something else. Still the same realm mechanically, though.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 15, 2010, 08:34:11 PM
Filip,

I apologize for using your name in my previous post.

What you said about IAWA is as true for Sorcerer as anything I know, and exactly what I meant by tool for making stories.

All WoD materials have nothing to do with what I'm referring to.

I'm just going to assume we're not going to communicate too well on any of this. You now have nothing to defend.

Seriously, everyone, forget I mentioned Filip.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on May 16, 2010, 05:46:59 AM
I forgot to add this:

Yes, Filip, al the examples at hand are  mechanically the same. I pointed out that we already agreed on this point two pages ago.

Ron has brought up the more interesting point, to me in any case, that the question at hand is HOW the decision to allow the mechanic to be invoked -- and I'm asking how broad the types of these decisions are in this discussion.


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Simon C on May 17, 2010, 06:45:10 PM
I really, really don't get what's controversial about this argument.

Actual Play: We played Savage Worlds without miniatures for a long time. In Savage Worlds, you get +2 to hit if you charge, providing you charge in a straight line and nothing gets in your way.

So the characters are in a fight with some zombies. I've described the situation, and the players say what their characters do. One of them says "Rothgar charges the lead zombie."  Now it's my job to decide if Rothgar's player gets +2 to the roll. I decide.

But! I make my decision by thinking about the things that have already been agreed to by the players. I've said "You're standing in a wide open street" and the players have all gone "uh huh", because I'm the GM and I get to say that kind of thing.  I haven't said "The zombies are standing behind a barricade" which is also my perogative. I have to consider all this stuff when I'm making my decision. I absolutely COULD decide that the player doesn't get the +2, but I'd have to say something like "oh, there's a barricade in the way" or "the cobblestones are too uneven to get a good charge going" or something like that, or else I'm breaking the rules. If I did decide that, the player would justifiably be confused. He'd be like "Hey! You didn't say that before!" and I'd be like "Fair cop" and then probably let him describe the character doing something else instead, if he wanted to.

So yes, Callan, you're correct, someone decides. But "Someone decides" isn't the same as "someone chooses randomly". Someone decides, usually based on an agenda of remaining consistent with things that have already been said and agreed to.

Is that complicated? Am I missing something?


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 18, 2010, 08:03:44 AM
I'm with you, Simon. The fundamentals aren't especially at issue here, as far as I can tell ...

... unless it's to highlight that some, or possibly many role-players have never experienced a functional SIS in the first place. I've observed such play, or suffered as a participant sometimes.

I think we've all experienced "hiccups," in that someone thought their character was standing on the table, but no one else processed that, and subsequent rolls or described events were predicated on the character being on the floor. In such cases, every group finds ways to cope, either back-writing or updating what the character is "actually" doing in the present wave-front of action, sometimes passing over a mis-application of certain mechanics and simply carrying forward.

But I'm not talking about a mere hiccup. I'm talking about every aspect of play being subject to negotiation in the negative sense of the word, such that merely moving forward in fictional time requires immense effort in the face of advantage-seeking, or bored inattention, or confusion. It doesn't surprise me that such play results either (i) in slamming all play as hard as possible toward the more formalized mechanics, such as rounds and initiative and rolls to hit; or (ii) in slamming all play as hard as possible toward the exact opposite. In (i), it happens because the interpersonal yip-yap is so traumatic that it halts play in its tracks. In (ii), it happens because the interpersonal yip-yap comes under the dominance of a single personality, or a very tight team of at most three people.

I would certainly like to talk to other people who played a lot of Champions during the 1980s (pre-4th edition), because my impression is that that game, in particular, became extremely characterized either way for a given group, and only a few groups were able to find another way, in which the mechanics and the talking were harmonized.

As an aside, I think this dual failure is the origin of the false roll/role dichotomy enshrined in RPG rhetoric during the 1990s. We're not talking about roll vs. role at all, we're talking about play which fails at establishing its most basic medium, as if soccer players were trying to play without quite being sure of what a "goal" is or whether we're using this "ball" thing or not, or if a painter were not entirely sure what the colored gunk is for.

I have no idea whether what I'm saying applies to either Callan or Filip, and don't mind if it doesn't. I do think that what I've read from them in this thread, and in many previous to this, is consistent with the notion that they have zero trust in people talking, and seek formalized procedures of play which restrict all talking and imagined content to what is provided by sources external to the people playing. It so happens that I think Dungeoneer, a card game which I enjoy immensely, would suit this desire perfectly. Whether the Dungeoneer RPG, associated with the card game and using some of its mechanics, would suit this desire, I don't know. There seems to me to be a hard conceptual break between the two activities, which lies directly in this topic of actual human speaking and imaginative input being a component of the role-playing medium.

I will assume for the moment that a reader agrees with me that functional role-playing necessarily includes both functional talking/listening and functional mechanics (no matter how "diceless" or "story" one claims the game is), and without both, you fail to establish a medium for play. As an aside, I hope it also makes sense that this has nothing to do, or not fundamentally to do, with Creative Agenda, but rather with the very possibility of having a CA at all.

So: to me, the question begins with the observation that people can do this, i.e. role-play in the sense that I'm describing here, and not merely because someone "decides" stuff in an arbitrary and/or domineering way. Given that observation, the question is "how," and I do not anticipate the answers to be mysterious, mystical, or overwhelmingly profound.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: Something about 'height advantage' and it's kin
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on May 18, 2010, 05:58:02 PM
Ron,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
It so happens that I think Dungeoneer, a card game which I enjoy immensely, would suit this desire perfectly. Whether the Dungeoneer RPG, associated with the card game and using some of its mechanics, would suit this desire, I don't know.

No, this assumption is incorrect.

It so happens that I played some Dungeoneer just a few weeks ago, with one of the players from my core player pool, with whom I normally game successfully. It sucked. The game felt somewhat similar to the little pre-3.x D&D play I had, only it sucked even more. It delivered less fun overall, while the ruleset was intrusive to the point that it just didn't feel worth the effort. Our conclusion was that if we wanted to play something like this again, which we specifically don't want, we would probably be better off playing one of those retro-clone things.

Important related data point: I've run a pretty satisfying campaign of Pathfinder not so long ago (prep was too demanding to keep things up on a satisfying level for much longer, though). On the other hand, the few sessions of D&D 4e we played in the past were mildly satisfying, as everything outside combat felt just too loose compared to 3.x.

I play various other board games with that guy and others from my core player pool, and it normally works fine. Abstract board games like Carcassonne or Samurai work especially well. Arkham Horror is interesting, as it includes some adventure game aspects, but as opposed to Dungeoneer works fine. It delivers entirery different sort of fun than games with solid imaginary content played with the same people, though.

I find it hard to relate to your comments about trust, but I notice the activity disconnect thing I was writing about here and there, where I just don't see how your words apply to anything I know or want. When I play games I specifically don't want to have to trust anyone in any special way. Likewise, I specifically don't want other players to have to trust me in any special way. Past the very basic level of trust when I know those people are not going to cheat or something, I expect the game to provide solid ground for whatever we are about to do, without anyone having to worry that some invisible lines get overstepped (e.g. see my posts above about rules that say one thing when the actual rule turns out to be different). A friend once described his experiences with multiplayer action games, where most players are largely anonymous and cheating is rampant, with people routinely using applications that change how the game works to gain unfair advantage. This is the sort of environment that plain doesn't meet that basic trust requirement for me; I wouldn't even consider playing anything under similar conditions. It's one of the reasons I avoid massive multiplayer games like fire. I used to play satisfying multiplayer video games with small groups of people I knew at that basic level, however. Past this basic level of trust, I expect the game to provide a safe and functional playground.

I expect this from video games and board games, and in vast majority they tend to deliver. I don't see why I shouldn't also expect this from roll-playing games, but with various weird attitudes permeating the hobby, those prove much less reliable in practice. They often push to the players what in just about any other commercial product under the sun would be the designer's job. At the same time, their texts tend to be oversized in comparison with games of other sorts (and consequently, more demanding in terms of time and effort). Oddly, this seems often not only accepted, but even praised in the hobby.

The result is that with every new roll-playing game I try, the first few sessions are a trial period when I'm focused primarily on figuring out whether the design is reliable enough (or worth fixing when it isn't). Only once I build trust in the ruleset, I shift to playing normally rather than in playtesting mindset.

Note that:

1). I initially came to rpgs looking for a different kind of games, largely based on my fascination with crpgs at the time. Back then, I specifically wasn't looking for "a fusion of theater, happening and literature," as some text I encountered early described them, though there was a relatively short period when I bought into that rhetoric wholeheartedly (incidentally, also a period of quite unsatisfying gaming and all sorts of high school social bullshit).

2). There was no one to introduce me to the hobby initially (no stable groups till college, in fact). From the beginning I had to figure everything out by trial and error, having only a handful of scarce texts as references. The first arguably complete game text I was exposed to was some Lord of the Rings based introductory system that was pretty much the distilled essense of 90s bullshit. However, I tried out or examined a relatively large number of games in those early gaming years (that is, compared to some established WFRP-only groups I've encountered at some point in high school), including stuff like FUDGE or GURPS Lite that I recall downloading as soon as internet access became available, and a substantial number of homebrews. I used to experiment a lot in those early years, e.g. I recall trying out GM-less gaming long before I even encountered any mention of such games.

Well, I've been cheated by the "game" part in rpg, I guess. Until D&D 3.x and later some Forge titles, it plain didn't work as games.